Respond to the Call 2011

Among the 40 who died on Flight 93 was a young woman from Catonsville,Maryland, Honor Elizabeth Wainio.  At the memorial service at the Christian Temple (Disciples of Christ) church, her mother challenged the mourners to honor the memory of all who died on September 11 with service in the community. 

 In 2002, the congregation inaugurated an annual day of remembrance and service with a program entitled Respond to the Call.  The original aim was to partner with the Muslim community in Baltimore to do community service.  The Muslim Community Cultural Center has co-sponsored the event with us each year. From the beginning, our goal has been to place nine teams of 11 across the city. 

 On Saturday, September 10, 2011, Respond to the Call will mark its ninth year. Once again, our Respond to the Call leaders anticipate at least 99 volunteers. The variety of work sites allows us to augment groups, even with last minute registrations. 

 From the beginning, we have provided opportunities for service to individuals of all backgrounds.  Participation is certainly not limited to church members.   Working with our congregation are folks of varied faith traditions and others with no religious affiliation. Some show up only for this one day.  This year we plan to have volunteers from Johns Hopkins University Muslim Assn, Islamic Relief ,USA, Muslim Social Services Agency and Masjid-Al Inshirah.

 Our volunteers come in all ages and abilities. We make sure to have work for children as well as adults.  Residents in a nearby assisted living facility and teens from a group home, with their counselors, will participate for the second time this year.

             Respond to the Call begins early with a gathering of volunteers in a solemn and respectful ceremony, including a moment of silent meditation, to commemorate all who died and all who risked their lives in rescue and relief operations.  The themes of unity among peoples and the healing power of service to others are spoken by the minister and a guest Imam, followed by a responsive litany that mentions the people who will receive assistance.

 At Christian Temple, one team prepares casseroles frozen for later use at a homeless shelter, while another group knits caps for premature babies.

 Most volunteers, however, provide service in support of non-profit agencies located in/near Catonsville or in Baltimore City: 

 Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake builds homes and sells them at no interest to partner families. On our workday, volunteers will work in a newly opened ReStore where donated items are sold to support their mission.

 Civic Works of Baltimore coordinates with community groups to reclaim city lots as “common areas” where structures have been razed. Under the direction of a Civic Works manager, our crew will provide muscle at one or more of the plots under reclamation.                         

First Fruits Farm grows fresh produce for shelters and food banks.  Volunteers harvest and box up apples, beans, potatoes and other crops.

Glynn Taff Assisted Living is home to those who are no longer capable of independent living.  A Respond to the Call team will assist the residents with the preparation of gift bags to be sent to troops serving overseas.

  For each of the five agencies listed below, the Respond to the Call volunteers complete requested tasks which include making repairs to the facility, indoor or outdoor painting, and establishing or maintaining perennial gardens.

Therapeutic & Recreational Riding Center offers physical and occupational therapy for individuals, primarily children, with physical, emotional or developmental disabilities through the experience of riding a horse.  

The Children’s Home provides a residence and support services to young people who have experienced serious interruptions in their family life.  [The teens who harvested vegetables at a farm, mentioned above, are residents of The Children’s Home.]

Catonsville Emergency Food Ministry provides food and other services to those who unexpectedly find themselves in serious financial straits.  

 Prisoners’ Aid creates transitional facilities in Baltimore city for individuals released from incarceration. 

 The Samaritan Women aims to support women, many of whom are veterans, by providing residence, education and job training

            Respond to the Call is promoted through announcements in church publications (now on Facebook), notices in the community paper, word of mouth, and through personal contacts with and invitations to other religious and service groups.  Each of the Christian and Muslim sponsors advertises in their communities.

 We require registration and signed liability waiver forms.  All registration information is plotted on a spread sheet, a format which allows for documentation of participants and their service sites.

 In the community of Catonsville and among the agencies we serve, the Respond to the Call program is recognized and anticipated as a worthy tribute to those who were lost on September 11.  We are proud of what is accomplished with limited financing through the enthusiasm and effort of individuals of many backgrounds and strengths.  If we were to be awarded a grant, our goals and guiding principles would remain unchanged.  Increased resources, however, would allow us to enlarge the reach of the program through enhanced promotion.   Always in fine balance are the funds we have versus the need we see for paint, casserole ingredients, equipment and garden plants; an award would permit expanded  contributions toward the mission of each non-profit entity.  A dream not feasible as things currently stand but perhaps in reach if we were awarded a grant would be the goal to meet a larger, specific need identified by each agency we serve. We could possibly bring in experts to help oversee building projects or purchase additional materials to do larger projects at each site. If we had additional funds, we could better document what we do with video, press, pictures and get many more people involved through a more expanded marketing approach.

As it is, Respond to the Call is a great way to transform a date of tragedy into a day of service and remembrance.  A grant would help us expand our reach and make even a larger impact on our community.