In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month this April, we want to celebrate one of our long-term volunteers, Kathleen “Kay” Taylor from Burke Presbyterian!
Thirty years ago, Kay and her husband first arrived in DC and began attending Burke Presbyterian, a local church involved with many nonprofits. She visited many nonprofits with the ministry leader one day, but they did not get a chance to visit Christ House. The ministry leader began to speak about the mission and vision of Christ House on the car ride home, and immediately, there was a stirring in Kay’s heart that told her to say “yes” to serve here.
“It just felt right,” she said. She continued on to say that once someone is able to gain a sense of who they are, what they like to do, what their gifts are, listening to that instinctive “yes” is a good indicator that they should follow that feeling. Those moments in life happen rarely, and when they do, it’s a sign that we are on the right track.
To this day, Kay Taylor is still involved in volunteering with Christ House. Thanks to Kay’s consistent leadership, Burke Presbyterian has served dinner on the second Saturday of every month for over thirty years. Kay distinctly remembers some of the most popular meals she has served at Christ House, like her infamous Chili Mac loaded up with veggies or her hamburgers full of herbs. She strives to make sure that all of the meals are nutritious. “They’re full of veggies,” she said, “and they don’t even know they’re eating them!”
Bringing these meals to Christ House every week requires a team effort, from coordinating with congregants, scheduling volunteers, and bringing the meal to Christ House. For a long time, Kay called everyone on Burke’s list of volunteers to ensure that every detail, from the ingredients to the service, is covered. If a recipe calls for 12 cans of crushed tomatoes, for example, she’ll ask four people to bring three cans each so anyone is able to contribute.
For many years, Kay Taylor has also organized an annual sweater drive for our patients. Individuals donate new or gently-used sweaters for our patients during the winter—certainly no small gift for many of our patients who have spent time on the street during DC’s chilly winters.
One year, Kay was worried that one of our new patients would not like the sweater that had been given to them, because it wasn’t quite the proper fit or style for them but it was the best that she could do on such short notice. After all the gifts had been unwrapped and everyone showed off their nice, warm sweaters, this patient went up to Kay Taylor to thank her profusely for the gift.
“I’ve never had anything so nice,” they said. “Thank you so much.” The next time Kay Taylor saw this patient, they were wearing the sweater she had given them.
When asked what she appreciates about Christ House, she said that she loves how Christ House is committed to stewarding our resources well as we provide comprehensive and compassionate care for our patients.
“Christ House doesn’t waste,” she said. “You know when you’re donating to Christ House that your resources are going to a good place.”
Sitting next to patients across a meal are some of Kay’s favorite moments here at Christ House. After serving dinner last month, she recalled sitting next to two patients.
As the two patients ate together, one of them exclaimed, “This is a great place.”
The other agreed. “I’m so happy I made it to Christ House,” he said as he dug into his meal.
This moment of gratitude reminded Kay why she continues to return month after month, year after year. For over thirty years, Christ House has provided a place of healing for our patients, where they can sit down together around a table and experience joy and rest in the middle of things. Being a part of this work is a place of joy and hope for us all. It is in large part due to the steadfast and generous presence of our volunteers like Kay and others that we are able to do this vital work.
Fulfilling our mission requires many hands, and from the bottom of our hearts, we are grateful for anyone who has stepped through Christ House’s doors to serve. Thank you.