Catholic Worker House unites Simpson students

Catholic Worker House unites Simpson students

by Rachel GullStaff Writer

What are your plans for May Term? Are you taking a class? Traveling abroad? Doing an internship?

For sophomore Courtney Lezanic and senior Tracy Robson, May Term will center on helping those less fortunate, and both girls plan to have a lot of fun. Over May Term, Lezanic and Robson will be living and working in Des Moines’s Catholic Worker House.

The Catholic Worker House is a faith-based, peace organization that works to serve the residents of the Des Moines area by fulfilling many of their basic needs. Catholic Worker House was started by a woman named Dorothy Day, and the Des Moines Catholic Worker House is just one of the organization’s many locations.

The house in Des Moines is a homeless hospitality center, not providing housing for homeless guests, but serving them with warmth and kindness. This hospitality includes serving meals twice each day for five days each week and helping guests with grocery services.

Guests can also have their mail delivered to the house and can make phone calls. The Catholic Worker House does not limit its guests in any way.

“The Catholic Worker House welcomes guests no matter whether they are homeless, low-income or just hungry,” senior Kelsey Hedrick said.

The Des Moines Catholic Worker House is staffed by 10-20 people who live on the premises. Lezanic and Robson will join these people in their mission of providing hospitality and companionship to the less fortunate.

Hedrick also heads a group from Simpson that volunteers at the Catholic Worker House. The group meets each Thursday at 5 p.m. in the BSC grill, goes to help at the House, and is back by 7:30 p.m. The group helps serve dinner, cleans up after the meal and spends time with guests, providing much-needed companionship and care.

Hedrick estimates that anywhere from 5-to-12 Simpson students come each week, and Simpson’s Religious Life Community provides a van so students don’t have to drive on their own. Robson feels students should experience the Catholic Worker House.

“I’d definitely recommend it,” Robson said. “I think that a lot of Simpson students haven’t been out of their comfort zones as much as Catholic Worker House makes them be.”

However, if 5 p.m. on Thursdays doesn’t work for someone, or a student wants to get some extra service hours in, students can feel free to go on their own. For instance, sometimes Hedrick goes up on weekends on her own just to hang out.

“I’ve been going for three years pretty solidly and I’ve led the group for two,” Hedrick said. “Through the Catholic Worker House, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation of the world around me and the things that I have that are blessing in my life.”

Lezanic and Robson are excited to be staying at the Catholic Worker House over May term.

“Courtney Lezanic and I are both staying at CWH instead of taking a class for a couple of reasons,” Robson said. “Firstly, we just really love the people there and the community there, and we really wanted to be a part of it. I’d heard of other students coming and living there all summer, and since I don’t have the opportunity to do that because of other summer commitments, we figured that May Term would be perfect.”

The girls will be helping with meals and with other duties such as cleaning, laundry, and organizing. Lezanic will receive internship credit for the experience, but Robson will be leaving after two weeks to go to a Women in Mathematics Program in New Jersey.

Robson will be getting May Term credit through the math department for that program, and will only be working at the Catholic Worker House for fun.

Lezanic is really excited about her upcoming experience and recommends students get involved in the program.

“It’s an awesome experience, because it is a really great way to be in community with others,” Lezanic said. “Catholic Worker House allows for opportunities that people might never put themselves in.”