Opportunity Center Volunteers give back

Before the sun comes up each morning, Laurie comes to Catholic Charities’ Opportunity Center to start preparing for breakfast. Not long after, Joe and Louie come to the kitchen and pull on aprons before starting to prepare breakfast alongside Catholic Charities’ cooks.

At Opportunity Center, we rely on Joe, Laurie, Louie and others from Alliance Apartments to serve breakfast to hundreds of hungry souls each week.

“We could never do it without them. They’re wonderful,” said Food Service Supervisor Mike DeJong.

Laurie was once a Catholic Charities’ client, once someone who came to Opportunity Center because she relied on the meals and services there. Now, she’s a resident at Alliance Apartment and proud to be on the other side of the counter serving breakfast.

“I used to do drugs. I used to get out there. Not anymore,” she said with a smile. “That used to be me. That’s not me anymore. I got my life back.”

Alliance Apartments offers sober, supportive, permanent singles housing located near Opportunity Center. Residents at Alliance are required to give back to the community by volunteering, but are known to go above and beyond.

“If we ever need extra help, we can always call Alliance and they’ll send someone over,” DeJong said.

Joe and Louie are Alliance alumni. They, too, understand life on the streets. While he’s since moved into his own apartment in Hopkins, Joe catches the bus each day to help in the kitchen at Opportunity Center.

While he’s been giving his time for more than four years, Joe brushes it off in his humble way.

“I like being around people and I don’t like sitting still,” he said. “I’m retired now so I have time on my hands.”

Keeping busy helps Joe battle his addiction. “Being an addict, you like to get in your own head. Being busy helps me stay clean,” he said.

Laurie helps roll the napkins and flatware, she helps in the kitchen chopping up produce, sets up the milk, makes the coffee and does whatever needs doing.

“As a team, we all work together,” Laurie said.

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