Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 24, 2013

Volunteer keeps CAM on track

Woman works behind the scenes for assistance center

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

— [Editor’s note: In honor of National Volunteer Week, the Kokomo Tribune is recognizing volunteers who make a difference in their community.]

For more than five years, Karen Snow has been keeping all of the paperwork straight at the Coordinated Assistance Ministries shelter on Market Street.

At least that’s the simple version of what Snow does for CAM, which functions as a place where homeless and destitute people can get help, pick up mail, find housing and generally be treated like valued members of society.

“She’s never seen. She’s not out in the public eye,” said CAM’s shelter director Kathy Esslinger. “She just does a tremendous job.”

Every Tuesday and Friday, Snow comes by the shelter for anywhere from an hour to most of the day, creating detailed reports on spending and donations to help the organization continue to qualify for state Emergency Shelter Grants.

Each month, the organization sends information about clients it has helped to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to help the state keep track of the homeless population.

Snow is the one who keeps tabs on all of that information. She prepares thank you letters for donors and helps organize CAM’s annual Christmas party, where all of the homeless who’ve registered to take part get a small gift.

Beyond all of that, Snow and her husband have been friends to those who come to the shelter, Esslinger said.

“Karen takes a resident or two under her wing and helps them with work at [her home], befriending them and helping them with their self-worth,” Esslinger wrote.

Volunteers like Snow are essential to CAM, which went through a tough time during last week’s flood.

Esslinger said the storage area holding furniture donations for CAM was flooded, a big setback for the group.

“A lot of our clients live in the flood area, and they lost everything. And now we don’t have anything to give them,” she added.

“Kathy comes in and spends two to four hours a week, every week. She’s just incredibly faithful,” Esslinger said.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com