Lifestyle Religion — 06 October 2011

Nashville, TN – Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. recently honored eight (8) people as its 2011 Volunteers of the Year, recognizing their dedicated service and the varied contributions they make to Catholic Charities, its clients and the community.

“Our volunteers are faithful, hardworking and devoted to serving others. Catholic Charities could not fulfill its mission without their service,” said Bill Sinclair, executive director of Catholic Charities.

He noted that volunteers provided approximately 40,000 hours of service to Catholic Charities during the past year; this translates to approximately 22 hours of volunteer service for every hour of work by the staff.  Volunteers are involved in all areas of programming; more than 69,000 people in Middle Tennessee were served last year.

Rhonda Borman, LCSW, was named Social Services Child Welfare Volunteer of the Year. A licensed clinical social worker with more than 18 years of professional experience, she has volunteered her knowledge and insights to Catholic Charities’ school and child welfare counselors for more than 10 years. A resident of Bellevue, she consults with the counselors on topics including anxiety, depression, grief and loss, life stage transition, and women’s issues. She has also provided in-service training sessions on play therapy and best practices in working with children. Each year, she serves as a judge in the annual Child Abuse Prevention Month poster contest and provides insights into the value of art in helping children express ideas and feelings.

Margaret Connelly was honored as the Loaves and Fishes Volunteer of the Year. For more than four years, she has been a regular Monday volunteer at the Loaves and Fishes Community Meals for the Hungry program that provides hot, nutritious lunches to people in the East Nashville community.  She helps wherever needed whether by helping with meal preparation, serving lunch, or greeting and visiting guests. One of her distinctive ministries is assisting guests who have special needs. A brain cancer survivor, she is a reminder that no adversity is too great to overcome through grace and willpower.  She provides inspiration and motivation to everyone.

Minnie Horton was recognized as the Administrative Services Volunteer of the Year for her six years of distinguished service on the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees.  She was chair of the Board’s Program Oversight Committee for four of those years during a period of tremendous growth and change for the agency. A retired employee of the Internal Revenue Service, her experience, professional insights, and ability to clarify and concisely explain complicated issues were invaluable as the Committee, Board and agency worked to prioritize programs.  She also enthusiastically participated in many agency activities, particularly supporting and volunteering with programs assisting the poor.

Sheila Kiley was honored as the North Nashville Outreach Volunteer of the Year.  After retiring from Catholic Charities in 2006, she wanted to continue serving people in need so she began volunteering at the North Nashville Outreach program.  She has provided more than 535 hours of volunteer service to the program during the past five years.  She volunteers at the reception desk, a challenging assignment that involves handling incoming phone calls, filing information, greeting people arrive to request help, and scheduling case manager appointments.  She also helps distribute lunches to the homeless and clothing to anyone in need. She always goes the extra mile including washing and repairing donated clothing so that it can be available to clients.

Julia Pickard was named the Caring Choices Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her many volunteer efforts benefiting the Material Assistance Program that works to meet the basic needs of pregnant women and new mothers. For more than two years, she has come to Catholic Charities twice a month to help answer the Material Assistance Program phone and to follow up on messages regarding requests for basic need items such as diapers, formula, clothing, and car seats or inquiries about the donation of these items.  She also helps prepare assistance bags for clients. She often takes clothing donations home to wash them prior to distribution. She also personally buys diapers and clothing when supplies were low. All of her volunteer efforts reflect her “whatever it takes” attitude, care and respect for clients.

Mary Rolando was honored as the Tennessee Office for Refugees Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her role in creating this new department at the agency.  For the past three years, she has been a member of the Tennessee Office for Refugees Committee of the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees and served as chair of the Committee for the past two years.  Her skill and talent for effective communication have been invaluable in launching this program that links TOR with state agencies and partner organizations across Tennessee.

Ren Lu You, a native of Shanghai, China, is the Refugee Services Volunteer of the Year. A graduate of the University of Virginia with studies in Economics and Sociology, for the past 18 months he has volunteered his knowledge and experience in financial planning to help newly arriving refugees. With great patience and a winning personality, he works with clients from many different backgrounds who may lack formal education and who, in most cases, speak little or no English. He provides them with financial literacy instruction on topics including budgeting, cash flow management and paper work management, all skills that are essential to the financial security and success of refugees in a new country.

Kristen Portanova, a senior at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, received the I Care Award, presented each year to someone age 18 or younger who provides outstanding community service.  At  Holy Family Church, she is very visible and exceedingly helpful, putting her faith into action through service. For six years, she has been a catechist for the church’s Wednesday afternoon religious education program.  She has also assisted with the parish’s annual confirmation and first communion retreats. She is very involved in Teen Life programs and works in the parish’s nursery on Sunday mornings.  Her enthusiasm for every project is matched by her style, grace and smile.

About Catholic Charities of Tennessee:
Established in 1962, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. provides family services on behalf of the Diocese of Nashville in 38 middle Tennessee counties. The services of Catholic Charities are available to people of any religious, racial, ethnic or cultural background. Last year, Catholic Charities provided services to more than 69,000 people. For information about the services of Catholic Charities, visit

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