Published on April 11, 2016
Kallin Zehren is currently a Junior at Tulane University, where she works as the Service Chair at Tulane’s Catholic Center. When she took on the role, she wanted to expand the Catholic Center’s service initiatives, and turned to Catholic Charities to ask about their areas of greatest need. She put together a volunteering initiative for the children at Baronne St. Housing, a transitional shelter for homeless families.
On Saturdays, she brings out a team of 12 students and local volunteers for three hours to spend time reading, doing arts and crafts, and dancing with the children living there. The younger children are easier to work with and more ready to accept volunteers with open arms, she says, while the older children can sometimes be less trusting because of the tough life experiences that they have gone through. Zehren’s team of volunteers is versatile, however, and volunteers are able to take one-on-one time with older children to get through to them. According to Zehren, one of the most rewarding parts of the job comes when an older or shy child finally opens up to a volunteer and starts to have fun.
Zehren and her team are doing more than just having fun! Recently, she has emphasized talking to young female children about more than their looks, and complimenting them on their crafts, abilities, and skills. As she and her team have made that a priority, she says the young girls are even happier and more excited to have the volunteers around.
According to Zehren, one of the most difficult parts of the job is leaving at the end of the day. “Sometimes I have to physically remove children who are hugging on to me and asking me not to go,” she says. Furthermore, because the shelter is transitional, she often does not get to see the same children from week to week, and it is hard for her not to get attached. Zehren realizes that not seeing a child again can be a positive thing, perhaps meaning that their family has been lifted out of the cycle of homelessness and poverty.
Join us in giving a big thank you to Kallin Zehren and all of her wonderful volunteers who are providing the children at Baronne St. Housing with hope, confidence, fun and most importantly, LOVE!
Baronne Street Housing is a shelter that offers transitional housing for women or men with their children. It can accommodate 16 families and is one of the few family shelters where men are accepted. Services provided include case management, counseling, advocacy, referrals for additional services, therapeutic and educational groups.