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Catholic Charities USA Announces National Volunteer Of The Year

April 19, 2012
© The Street

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), one of the nation's leading human services organizations, today announced the winner of its 2012 National Volunteer of the Year Award: Ellen Buelow of Albuquerque, NM.

"Ellen is an outstanding volunteer and a fine example of the difference that people can make in the lives of their neighbors," said Jim Gannon, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. "Without volunteers like Ellen, we could not meet the needs of the thousands who call on us."

In 2011, Buelow co-founded the Newcomers/School Readiness Program in Albuquerque, which fills a vital need for newly-arrived refugee youths who have a month between arrival and enrollment in school.  As lead volunteer of the program, she works daily to meet newly-arrived children, provide them with backpacks, review vocabulary and important English phrases, and to get them excited about starting school.  Her efforts have resulted in higher levels of achievement among these students.

Buelow is also an advocate for social change, serving on the social justice action committee at her church and coordinating initiatives throughout her community.

"Ellen embodies the mission of Catholic Charities with her steadfast commitment to serving others while advocating for a just and fair society," said Rev. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. "Her cultural integration and poverty reduction efforts inspire us to continue creating opportunity in new and innovative ways."

Since retiring from a 30-year teaching career in 2007, Buelow has dedicated her time as a volunteer for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  She began her services as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor for Mexican immigrants, eventually transferring to the charity's Refugee Resettlement and Support program.  There, she also helped to found the Conversation Partners program, which provides an additional, informal learning environment for refugees enrolled in ESL classes; participants are able to practice conversational English in small group settings.

Buelow's advocacy efforts are many.  She serves as local group coordinator for Bread for the World, a national interfaith organization that advocates methods and legislation for hunger and poverty alleviation. She is also a member of Albuquerque Interfaith, a legislative action group that advocates on behalf of the poor, addressing issues of just wages and the importance of early childhood education. 

Buelow will be honored at the CCUSA Annual Gathering in St. Louis this October.  For more information about the National Volunteer of the Year Award and Finalists, visit: http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/page.aspx?pid=2572.

Catholic Charities USA's members provide help and create hope for more than 10 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities agencies have worked to reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from health care and job training to food and housing. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA celebrated its centennial anniversary.

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