The Catholic Church in Arkansas has a long and rich history of serving the hungry. In fact, the Church was one of the earliest supporters of the Foodbank in the early 1980s when our mission was still taking form. They have given graciously, volunteered, served on our Faith Relations Committee, and advocated for our hungry
neighbors alongside us for over 30 years. So it was no surprise that the Diocese of Little Rock youth signed up to volunteer this summer. But this was an extra special project for a number of reasons.
Those who volunteered at the Foodbank in July were part of the Catholic Charities Summer Institute (C2SI). This annual event is hosted in conjunction with Catholic Charities of Arkansas every July. The five-day immersion experience teaches teens about social justice issues and how the Church is responding through the ministries in Catholic Charities. The afternoons are spent assisting various nonprofits in the community that serve the vulnerable in society including Our House, Care Link Respite Center, Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Facility, Arkansas Foodbank, and the Stewpot Soup Kitchen. This community service benefits a wide range of cultures and ages, and is also interfaith.
Among this benevolent crew was a young man with a big heart and a bright future. Sam Stengel has thoughtfully served through this event with the Diocese of Little Rock for the past five years. This year Sam had a different vantage point serving as a chaperone for the C2SI. “I love working at the Foodbank because I know that it is a great way to serve other people. It is impacting to package and organize the food because it helps people in a very tangible way.”
Sam’s big heart is leading him on his next adventure in the fall – seminary. “Serving others always gives me a feeling of joy that nothing else does, and I want to spend the rest of my life serving others. This year was my first time as a chaperone at C2SI, and it gave me a different perspective on the service we do. As a chaperone, I am not only serving the poor, I am also serving those who are serving the poor. This is one reason why I am entering the seminary to become a Catholic priest. As a priest, I will be able to serve all people in a meaningful way for the rest of my life. I want to thank the Foodbank for the part it has had in giving me the love of service which I now have.”
Sam is a perfect example of how the Catholic Church is partnering with us to serve the hungry and raising up a strong group of leaders for the future. If your congregation is interested in partnering with us, whether it be holding a food and fund drive or volunteering, please contact us at 501.565.8121 or visit our Faith Relations Resources page for more information.