Volunteers play a vital role at Casa San Jose, working alongside staff members, other volunteers and the Latino community to jointly achieve our goals. Through our Volunteer Recognition Program, we highlight the contributions of our volunteer workforce. Each month, we select a Volunteer of the Month from those volunteers currently performing above and beyond the baseline of excellence. At the end of the month, we recognize and highlight the hard work and dedication of one specific volunteer making an impact.
“I have worked with Sarah at Casa San Jose for over a year. Sarah is passionate about the mission of Casa San Jose. There didn’t seem to be any task that Sarah was not willing to respond to. Her faithfulness and dedication, coupled with her ‘big heart’ leaves us with an invaluable partner in our mission.” -Sr. Valerie
What drew you to Casa San Jose?
In January of 2017, my work schedule shifted, and I finally had the time to volunteer at Casa San Jose! That means that the start to my volunteering at CSJ coincided with the start of the current presidency, so it has been an interesting time. I have always been connected in some capacity with Spanish speakers—as an interpreter, a teacher, an advocate, a co-worker, a friend–so I have been aware of some of the issues that folks face. Still, volunteering at Casa has been a big learning experience for me and, since the work done at Casa so directly impacts people’s lives, it has helped me to gain an even deeper understanding of people’s experiences here in Pittsburgh. My favorite times have been interpreting for a woman during a Mother’s Day celebration at her daughter’s grade school, and taking a young man to pick up his green card. It has been a real honor to be a small part of these important moments.
“I remember one of the first volunteer days of Roye. Upon overhearing Sr. Janice and I discuss how Casa San Jose might best respond to the sudden influx of inquiries regarding volunteer opportunities in late Fall of 2017, Roye immediately looked up from her laptop and responded with this terrific idea and incredible blessing for Casa San Jose: why not create another layer of volunteers and call them “Amigo/a’s.” From that day on, Roye has continued to bring creativity, ingenuity, factual accounting of research, flexibility, wisdom and generosity to the mission of Casa San Jose through the regular creation and dissemination of newsletters to almost 400 Amigo/a’s” – Sr. Valerie
What is Roye’s role at Casa San Jose?
Roye Werner is the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator, assisting Sister Valerie in recruiting, training, and processing volunteers and supporters, and is a volunteer herself. She also writes various communications for Casa San José including a bi-weekly email newsletter.
She came from a 40-year career as a public-services librarian, primarily at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and lived for several years in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Her first professional job was as the Hispanic Services Librarian at Lawrence Public Library in 1977. She has volunteered for numerous political campaigns and service organizations and has a BA in literature from Mt. Holyoke College and a Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin. She chose to work with Casa San José because of its passion, vitality, and effectiveness, because Latino and other immigrants are being brutally victimized because she loves Latin American culture, and because she came from immigrants herself, as did so many Americans.
A lot of reasons. I’ve always tried to volunteer in some capacity, whether teaching ESL or planting trees. But the thing that really drew me to CSJ was anger: anger at our ongoing (and seemingly worsening) treatment of people who only want to provide for themselves and their families. I needed to find a more useful way to push back than just being angry every time I read the news or heard about this happening in my community.
What might be some meaningful experiences you have had while working with Casa San Jose?