Author: Geri Martin, Pax Christi parishioner
May 29, 2018

Any given Monday Sharon Karkanen can be found at Pax Christi. “It doesn’t take me long to do what I do,” Sharon laughs, “oh maybe just an hour to an hour and half at most. It is really pretty quick and easy.”

The volunteer philosophy she shares, “I have to be doing something with my time that is worthwhile, meaningful, and involves giving to others.  I want my retirement years to have meaning and purpose.”

Sharon has been a regular volunteer in the Building Services area for the last six years.  She started her volunteer “career” by vacuuming the church every Monday. One of those things that if you are only in church on Saturday or Sunday for services, you probably (like me) would take for granted. But after a full weekend of Masses, the church is in need of a good vacuuming, and Sharon was there on Mondays taking care of business.

After a few years of vacuuming the church, Sharon moved on to restocking the bathrooms. That is her current volunteer “job” in Building Services. Maybe you don’t realize this, but Pax Christi has 13 bathrooms, and every Monday—again after the weekend Masses—Sharon restocks the paper products and soaps and empties the trash.  Initially, during her rounds walking the building restocking all the bathrooms, Sharon noticed that some of the plants in the building were in need of some TLC. “I started watering when I realized some of them were a little dry and droopy. And then I started doing some light pruning when a few were getting too leggy.”

Sharon really enjoyed the plant care. She comes by it naturally, as before moving back to Minnesota and joining Pax Christi back in 1998, she had taken a few horticulture classes in California and really enjoyed it. Once in Minnesota, she found seasonal part time work at Bachman’s. She no longer works at Bachman’s. And is no longer involved with the weekly plant care, as that now involves a team of people. However, she is able to keep her hand in by also helping out with the Environmental Spaces team who oversees the special seasonal displays in the sanctuary that rely on special foliage—think Easter lilies and Christmas poinsettias. Sharon also volunteers at Pax as a money counter. That team of volunteers is so large, she only comes in to do so one Monday a month and is part of the group that counts the collection from the previous Sunday evening Mass.  She also volunteers with Pax Christi Loaves and Fishes team one afternoon a month to assist with meal prep at St. Stephen’s Church in Minneapolis.

The London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness. The findings revealed the more people volunteered the happier they were.  And Sharon is the embodiment of the adage that volunteer service is good for you. She feels that helping others helps you forget about your own struggles and helps you feel better about yourself. When asked what her favorite thing is about volunteering at Pax Christi, she quickly responds with an easy grin, “The people.” Adding, “I’ve met so many wonderful people over the years I wouldn’t otherwise know.” There are many, many ways to volunteer with Building Services requiring various amounts of time that can be done to accommodate various schedules. And as Sharon notes, “Are quick and easy.”

Sharon has expanded her volunteer service across the greater community by also volunteering at the PROP Shop. She began there sorting household items and clothing. But she is also a self-taught crocheter and started crocheting dishcloths while watching TV with her husband in the evenings. She thought they could be included with a bottle of liquid soap in a pump dispenser, tied with a pretty ribbon, placed in a gift bag and given to new PROP Shop clients as a welcome gift.

Hopefully, Pax Christi will benefit from Sharon’s creative and generous spirit for a long, long time. After all, her mother lived until age 90, her grandmother to 93, and she intends to make it to 100—and staying active and relevant is all a part of her grand plan.

Written by Geri Martin, Pax Christi parishioner

Pax Christi Catholic Community

12100 Pioneer Trail
Eden Prairie, MN 55347


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