Catholic Volunteer Network honors Christian Appalachian Project Alum Mary McNamara with the Annual Bishop Francis Award
Catholic Volunteer Network bestows the Bishop Joseph A. Francis Award on former volunteers that have demonstrated exemplary service to their local communities. Most Reverend Joseph A. Francis, S.V.D. served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark. He was the Episcopal Advisor for Catholic Volunteer Network from 1976 until his death in 1997. His wisdom and guidance helped the organization grow from a diocesan project in Newark to a national membership organization and resource center for faith-based volunteer programs. As Bishop Francis gave so much of himself to the Church, society and Catholic Volunteer Network, the individuals and organizations that are honored in his name will likewise have made great strides in bettering the world around them.
On November 7, 2019, during the National Conference on Faith-Based Service, Catholic Volunteer Network honored Mary McNamara with the 2019 Bishop Francis Award.
Mary McNamara was born and raised in the Cleveland area and is proud to still call Cleveland home. She has been a social worker for 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in social work is from The Ohio State University and her Master’s in social work degree is from Case Western Reserve University.
After college, she volunteered with the Christian Appalachian Project (also known as CAP) in Eastern Kentucky from 1994-1996 in homeless shelter for families. She lived in a community with seven other individuals that are some of her closest friends today. She served as a CAP staff member from 1996-2000. Her last three years at CAP were spent as the Coordinator of Volunteer Recruitment and Volunteer Life. CAP staff members recall her time on staff fondly and note that Mary’s contributions helped CAP recruit the largest number of year-long volunteers in its history.
Mary moved back to Cleveland in 2000 and spent a year working for the Missionary Cenacle Volunteers before graduate school. She then worked for a nonprofit that developed emergency housing for older adults and provided support to grandparents raising grandchildren. For the past eleven years, she has worked for the City of Cleveland and currently serves in the Cabinet of Mayor Frank Jackson, as the Director of Aging. Cleveland was the first city in the state of Ohio to join the Age Friendly Network of Communities through the World Health Organization.
Today, Mary serves on the board of the Amani Children’s Foundation and leads the Cleveland efforts, which raises funds and awareness for children orphaned in Kenya. She is passionate about welcoming refugee families to Cleveland.
She also remains closely connected to CAP. Mary is the initiator and continued catalyst for a now fifteen-year tradition each summer where former volunteers from Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia gather for a weekend. It is a time to re-connect and continue to share life together for these former volunteers whose experience transformed their lives. As the children of these former volunteers grow, this group has reflected that this gathering is such a meaningful way to share with their children the beauty and joy they experienced being part of CAP and volunteering.
For her past and ongoing dedication to service, Catholic Volunteer Network is pleased to honor Mary McNamara with the 2019 Bishop Francis Award.