March 31, 2017

Volunteer’s ‘joyful work’ uplifts people in need

By John Shaughnessy

Gary GadomskiIt’s another early Tuesday morning, and Gary Gadomski is once again first in line at the Midwest Food Bank in Indianapolis, preparing to pick up supplies that will benefit people who are homeless and in need.

Within minutes, the volunteer extraordinaire for the Cathedral Soup Kitchen and Beggars for the Poor will begin to load his 1996 “maroon and rust” Ford pickup truck—filling it with a haul that includes 20 pounds of ground pork, 80 cartons of eggs, and crates and cases filled with bread, cereal, fruit, vegetables and drinks.

“I like starting my week giving,” says Gadomski, who also picks up fruits and vegetables from an Indianapolis food distributor on Monday mornings. “That way, no matter how busy I get the rest of the week, I’ve started my week in a good way.”

With his truck bed and his back seat loaded with food, Gadomski heads to the Cathedral Soup Kitchen and food pantry, a ministry of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis. There, he’s greeted by his fellow volunteers and the homeless men who are lining up to be served breakfast.

“I like the people here,” says Gadomski, one of the 2017 Spirit of Service Award recipients who will be honored by Catholic Charities Indianapolis on April 26. “All the volunteers enjoy each other, and I’ve been here long enough that all the guys know me.

“Last Monday, there was a guy having a tough time walking. I had him come down the elevator with me. I asked him what his problem was, and he said he still had several bullet fragments in him. They have a lot of problems, but they’re still joyful and thankful, although some of them challenge us. I feel comfortable with them, and they feel comfortable with me.”

Gadomski has been volunteering at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen “for at least 10 years” and about 20 years for Beggars for the Poor, a ministry that provides food, clothing and conversation for the homeless in downtown Indianapolis.

He also volunteers at his home parish, St. Luke the Evangelist in Indianapolis.

He sets up the parish’s Nativity scenes during the Christmas season. He also had a major role in renovating a home that the parish has converted into a nursery and pre‑school site. And he’s the go-to handyman for the parish’s convent and other buildings—and for many senior citizens in the parish.

“I just find it satisfying to do things,” says Gadomski, who is 59. “When I was younger, I felt like more of a spectator. When you get older, you have to do your part. You take ownership. And once you take ownership, it’s natural to be involved.

“Jesus taught us to be servants. The things I do allow me to function in that servant’s role. It always seems the more I give, the more I’m taken care of. I had some health problems early on in my life. I’m thankful for the things I can do now. It’s happy work. It’s joyful work.” †

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