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Working together makes service more meaningful for mother-child duos

As many of our students log their service hours to meet graduation requirements, they team up with friends to make the work more fun. A few of our students volunteer with their family. Some, like rising senior Scott Schueler and Taylor Marshall ‘13, make it an ongoing project or tradition to volunteer with their mothers.

Scott and his mother, Mrs. Karen (Popp) Schueler ’83, were recently profiled in the St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities email newsletter for their commitment to mowing the agency’s lawn. Taylor will be profiled in the upcoming Vision magazine for her repeated mission trips to Nicaragua to serve with the nonprofit organization Amigos for Christ. This week, she is there once again, but this time with her mother, Mrs. Debbie (Sparks) Marshall ’84, former PHS director of special events and constituency management.

Taylor and Debbie (Sparks) Marshall enjoy a send off with  their family at the Indianapolis airport before their mission trip.

Taylor, who recently graduated from Marian University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in peace and social justice, has served on mission trips many times, including trips to Campton, Ky., with the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministry while in high school. Her mother joined her on one of those Campton trips, just as she did her other two children – Justin ’06 to Coahoma, Miss., and Nathan ’09 to New Orleans. This is Taylor and her mother’s first trip to Nicaragua together.

During college, Taylor participated in several mission trips to Nicaragua through Amigos for Christ. Just as on those previous trips, their work this week will help the organization in its mission to bring clean water to remote villages in the Central American country. Volunteer work on the trip can vary, from digging trenches for water lines to building bathrooms or working with orphaned children.

Despite the back-breaking work, Taylor chooses to return to serve again and again. She said she loves hearing people’s stories, especially from those with different backgrounds.

“One of the things that makes me love Amigos so much is making those connections and building bridges between cultures,” she said. “They always say that it doesn’t matter if you don’t get one ditch done that day as long as you have a meaningful conversation with someone.”

Debbie Marshall said before she left that she was excited about joining Taylor on this mission trip.

“I am so thankful to God for this opportunity to serve in Nicaragua and the extra special blessing to serve with Taylor again,” she said.


The following is reprinted with permission from the St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities monthly email newsletter.

Volunteer Spotlight: Mother-Son Team Leading by Action and Example
When Karen Schueler heard that St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities needed someone to mow the grass at the Market Street campus, she mentioned it to her son, Scott, a student at Providence High School in need of volunteer service hours. Karen decided to tag along and help the first time. “Mostly,” she joked, “to get so

Photo used with permission from St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities

me added steps on my Fitbit.” Soon, she and Scott discovered that with two people working toward the same goal, the job was much easier. They also really enjoyed spending time together volunteering as a mother-son team. So, they decided to make it a weekly thing.

Karen has served on the advisory council for St. Elizabeth’s for many years and firmly believes that volunteering gets you elbow-deep enmeshed within the organization. “It is very easy to sit through executive meetings and board meetings and make decisions, but you get a better feel for the overall agency and its mission through volunteering and working side-by-side with clients and staff.”

Karen also shared that leading by example and action is the best way to get our young people involved in community service. “Mowing grass weekly is not the most glamorous volunteer job, but at the end of the task, there is a sense of joy and accomplishment,” shared Karen. “It is also good for our community to see young people out and working at the agency.” Scott added, “I got started doing this only because of a requirement from my school. Now, it is part of my weekly routine, and it feels good to help others out.”

Karen encourages others to approach St. Elizabeth’s and communicate your strengths and passion. “They will find a place for you to volunteer within the agency. It would be really cool if families would adopt an area of landscaping on the properties and help with maintenance once a week.”

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