Spotlight on Two of Daybreak Center’s Awesome Volunteers
Caption: Evelyn Mytyk (left), receiving her Volunteer of the Year award from the director of Daybreak Center, Courtney Suchor. Diane Meader Schenk (right), receiving her award from Courtney Suchor, Daybreak Center’s director.
Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center homeless shelter in Joliet was blessed with the time and talent of 1,867 volunteers last year. As the largest homeless shelter in Will County, volunteers help cook, serve meals, drive clients to appointments, and serve in other capacities as needed. The two women featured here are extraordinary volunteers who have made an impact on the clients, staff, and culture of Daybreak Center.
Evelyn Mytyk (2020 Daybreak Center Volunteer of the Year) volunteers at Shepherd’s Table, the soup kitchen located within Daybreak Center. She is known for her excellent baking skills, and she makes sure that our clients (and staff) have homemade fresh treats to enjoy each week. Evelyn has a remarkable ability to look at limited food resources and create a delicious meal from whatever ingredients are on hand. She knows her way around the Shepherd’s Table kitchen so well that she has filled in for the staff kitchen coordinator many times. She also happily fills in for other volunteers when there is a last-minute cancellation. Evelyn is always ready to serve.
When the oven at Shepherd’s Table was failing, Evelyn made the very generous decision to donate the money to fund a new one. Having a new and reliable stove in the kitchen has been a wonderful gift to staff and volunteers who prepare meals for the hungry each day. Evelyn named the stove “Tillie” after her mother, whom she described as “always strong and dependable.”
Evelyn has organized fundraisers and collections for Daybreak Center with her community, Carillon Club in Naperville, and her parish, St. Francis of Assisi in Bolingbrook. She was thrilled when a toiletry collection at her parish was so successful that it took four separate trips to drop off all of the donated items.
Evelyn’s service is driven by her compassion for the individuals served by Catholic Charities. “It’s a pleasure to be around the clients,” she said. “It fills my heart with such joy to be able to serve these great people.” Catholic Charities is blessed to have Evelyn supporting our mission at Daybreak Center and beyond.
Diane Meader Schenk (the 2021 Daybreak Center Volunteer of the Year) became a volunteer with Catholic Charities at the suggestion and encouragement of Bishop Emeritus R. Daniel Conlon when they met two years ago. Diane was approaching retirement from her career in healthcare and was considering volunteer opportunities for the next phase of her life. Bishop Conlon was right – Diane is a perfect fit as a volunteer at Daybreak Center.
Diane has dedicated herself to helping the homeless, even during the pandemic. As a retired nurse, she is a tremendous asset because she knows how to remain safe and healthy in the high-risk environment of a homeless shelter. Diane cheerfully and energetically assists at Daybreak Center in whatever capacity is needed. She insists that she isn’t a cook, but is a very hard worker. Diane happily packs food boxes for the community, helps prepare lunch in the kitchen, and even helps with paperwork in Catholic Charities’ fiscal department. This wonderful volunteer approaches every task with enthusiasm and a warm smile.
When most volunteer services were paused during the pandemic, Diane was one of only three volunteers who were able to continue during that time. She helped prepare food for the 57 homeless shelter clients who had been temporarily relocated to hotels for social distancing. Diane also assisted Gail Flatness, the kitchen coordinator at Daybreak Center, with preparing 40 community food boxes each week. Gail said that Diane’s help was immeasurable, adding, “I never could have done this by myself.”
Diane is also known for her good rapport with the shelter clients. Everyone enjoys working with Diane and appreciates her contributions to Daybreak Center. Gail said, “She brightens up any room when she enters.”
To learn more about Daybreak Center and the other programs and services provided by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, please visit catholiccharitiesjoliet.org.