Catholic Worker House provides students opportunity to make a difference

by Abbie Crane

A few Simpson students are making a difference in the lives of poor people on the streets of Des Moines. Sophomores Kelsey Hedrick and Kayla Burkhiser volunteer their time and energy to lend a hand each week with the Catholic Worker House.

Burkhiser said she enjoys her time spent volunteering.

“I love it there,” Burkhiser said.

She said the people who run the organization are people who’ve given up their material possessions to serve others and live off their faith.

Hedrick said other students should try it because it’s something completely different and she believes the experience could expose students to new things.

“I think that it would open a few minds,” Hedrick said.

Senior Ryan Lieser agrees.

“You get a free meal, you get to hang out with some really cool people, and you give back to the community,” Lieser said.

Burkhiser said some people are scared when they first go and some love it the first time.

She also said the more you go and serve, the more involved you can get with the people who work there as well as the people who eat there.

According to Lieser, people from small town Iowa can see what poverty actually is and do something about it.

“There is a lot of diversity,” Lieser said.

Hedrick also enjoys the diversity of the people there because she says it’s something most people don’t get to experience.

Volunteers for the Catholic Worker House perform many tasks to help out during their weekly visits. Their duties include cooking, serving dinner, cleaning up after dinner, washing dishes, organizing things and simply talking to people.

Hedrick also expressed enthusiasm about the people that she talks to every week and has come to know.

“There are regulars that you get to know,” Hedrick said.

The Catholic Worker house isn’t a highly publicized volunteer event at Simpson, so it has a very small regular following.

Both Hedrick and Burkhiser said on a regular basis there are around three people who go, but it can range up to eight, unless a class is required to go.

Hedrick admitted she first began going just for a scholarship, but continues to go simply because she enjoys going and helping others.

Burkhiser said when a class is required to attend there are a lot of people, sometimes it’s almost too many.

The Catholic Worker movement was started in the 1930s by a woman named Dorothy Day. Her goal was to feed the homeless and help the less fortunate.

For any students interested in volunteering with the Catholic Worker House, an RLC van provides transportation to and from Des Moines every Thursday night. The van leaves at 5 p.m. and returns to campus around 7:30 or 8 p.m.