Glenmary Group Volunteer Program Expands to Grainger County, Tenn.

Posted: 6/4/2013

CINCINNATI (June 4, 2013)—Beginning in January 2014, Glenmary Home Missioners' nationally known Group Volunteer Program, which has served Lewis County, Ky., for more than 40 years, will expand to Grainger County, Tenn.

"Over 20,000 high school- and college-age volunteers have participated in our Kentucky program, which is based at the Glenmary Farm in Vanceburg," says Joe Grosek, Glenmary's volunteer program director. "And many of them have told us their experiences have been life-changing. We hope to create a program in Tennessee that has the same impact."

Glenmary has purchased nine acres outside of Rutledge, Tenn., for the program's second site. Volunteers will serve in a variety of mission outreach efforts in Grainger County and nearby Union County.

"We will be hosting a few small groups this summer to help us develop the service opportunities in both counties," Grosek says. Summer volunteers will work at a day camp for local migrant workers' children, perform home repairs throughout the area, and "tackle anything else that comes up as this new program establishes itself." Then in 2014, the program will host one group a month from January through March and will increase to two groups a month in April.

Each year, approximately 500 students from U.S. Catholic high schools, colleges and youth groups come to the Kentucky site to take part in a weeklong, retreat-like experience of missionary service to Lewis County residents; prayer and reflection; immersion into local Appalachian culture; community building; and an environment of simple living.

Outreach efforts in Grainger and Union counties will be patterned after the Kentucky program as volunteers—like the Glenmary priests and brothers who serve these counties—work to meet the needs of local residents. In Kentucky, these efforts include visiting local nursing-home residents, working to build and repair homes, staffing a food pantry and thrift store, and working with developmentally disabled individuals. The Tennessee volunteer program's outreach will reflect the unique needs found in Grainger and Union counties.

The current housing at the Tennessee site can accommodate 12 volunteers and two staff persons, with plans for additional quarters to be built in the future. Accommodations at the new site will be suitable for student groups, multigenerational parish groups and adult groups—and later on, older-adult groups for more long-term programs.

According to Father Chet Artysiewicz, Glenmary president, expanding the program to Tennessee and establishing this new volunteer site "adds a valuable extra dimension to our missionary efforts in these Tennessee counties, just as we've done in Lewis County for a long time." Lewis County is also home to Holy Redeemer, a Glenmary mission that is preparing to be returned to the pastoral care of the Diocese of Covington on July 1, 2013.

Grainger and Union counties are home to two of Glenmary's newest mission parishes: Blessed John Paul II in Rutledge and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Maynardville. The Catholic Church wasn't present in either of these counties—where the poverty rates average 20 percent—until Glenmary missioners arrived in 2011.

"I'm very happy that future volunteers will have the opportunity to be introduced to the local culture and people of this beautiful area of Tennessee," Grosek says. "We're setting down roots in Grainger County and looking forward to the future."

For more information on volunteering at the Tennessee or Kentucky site, please contact Joe Grosek today.