Journey at Center Comes Full Circle

Cathy Polkowsk

If you stop by the Responsive Services department on the second floor, you’ll likely see Cathy Polkowski behind the reception desk.

My “career” at the Franciscan Center began almost 21 years ago. In May of 1992, I walked into the Center to work my first day as a volunteer.  I remember it like it was only yesterday. A powerful feeling of belonging overwhelmed me, and I knew it could only be the Holy Spirit working within me. Two years later, I was invited to join the staff and I accepted. Working at the Center has always been a ministry for me, not a job.

For four years I managed the clothing store. Helping men and women choose clothing and hygiene items was very rewarding. On more than one occasion when there weren’t any items available and I was sorry about that, the client would say, “It’s okay because I know you really tried and you didn’t just turn me away.”

Eventually, I was asked to join the Responsive Services department as an interviewer. I worked with senior and disability clients exclusively. In that department I got to know clients on a more personal level because when they needed help I was the one they would see.

Working with the homeless, the poor and the marginalized is my calling. On a daily basis working here is very humbling. Many times their gratitude is shown when they say, “Thank you Jesus and thank you for the Franciscan Center.”

Clients often remark that they like coming to the center because they are treated with dignity and respect. They especially enjoy being called by name. Often clients will say, “Can I hug you?” and I respond, “Absolutely.”

For the past three and a half years, I have been in service at the Center as a full time volunteer. I choose to do this because for me it is about serving God and His poor in the spirit of St. Francis. After learning about Secular Franciscans from other volunteers, I felt called to pursue that avenue. In 1997, I professed as a Secular Franciscan, and my spiritual life became deeper and more enriched.

After all these years, the feeling that I experienced when I first walked into the Center is still with me. My heart belongs to the Franciscan Center and what it stands for.

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