How I Help


Peter Sacco, 21
Senior at George Washington University
Major: Human Services and Business Administration

Q: How did you come to volunteer for Calvary Women's Services?
A: During my freshman year, I did a lot of volunteer work with homeless services organizations that worked on helping the homeless find jobs and secure public benefits. Starting off my sophomore year, I really wanted to try working in a more residential setting. I Googled “volunteer at homeless shelter DC,” and Calvary was the first link that came up. I’ve been volunteering at Calvary for two years now

Q: What tasks do you perform as a volunteer?
A: Every Friday, I arrive at 9 p.m. and talk with the women and watch TV with them (Monk is a favorite show for all of us). Once they go to bed, I set up breakfast in the kitchen. In the morning I’m up at 5 am to cook breakfast. I’m known as the “pancake man” at Calvary because I always cook pancakes in the mornings. Original and blueberry are the normal menu items, however I’m starting to try out some new recipes. The apple cider ones I tried last week were well received.

Q: What have you learned from your time at Calvary? 
A: The value of hard work and determination. Although many of the women at Calvary have come from less than perfect backgrounds, they are all so determined to work hard and turn their lives around. Every time I’m there different residents come up to me and proudly say they’ve accepted a job offer, enrolled in school, or signed a lease on their own apartment. The success they’ve had because of their hard work and determination always brings a smile to my face.

Photo courtesy of Peter Sacco

Photo courtesy of Peter Sacco

Q: What was a great day volunteering at Calvary?
A: The first morning I cooked pancakes was a cold morning in January. Calvary doesn’t cook hot breakfasts in the morning, so when the first woman came down and saw the hot pancakes, her face instantly lit up. Word quickly spread throughout the building, and by the time breakfast was in full swing most of the building’s residents filled the dining room. Everyone was talking to each other and enjoying the hot breakfast, which made me feel happy.

Q: Ever get any questions about being a young man volunteering at a women’s shelter?
A: People do ask me occasionally, but in general a lot of people on campus know me for community service initiatives, so it doesn't surprise a lot of people. The first question I had was whether or not they even allowed men to volunteer, since it didn't say either way on their website. (I was told) everyone was welcome. (I learned) out of their regular crew of 200 volunteers at the time, only five or so were men. So it was interesting getting started to say the least.

Q: Any funny or embarrassing stories from your time volunteering there?
A: During my third weekend volunteering, I was really tired in the morning and ended up breaking the kitchen key in half while I was trying to unlock the kitchen door. Seeing as all of the coffee supplies were in the kitchen, a lot of people were not too happy that morning.

Q: What do you enjoy doing when you're not working/studying/volunteering?
A: Catching up on the latest episode of “The Daily Show” over a bowl of ice cream (I’m a proud New Englander, and we New Englanders enjoy our ice cream). I’m also really into local DC politics, and can talk about zoning regulations and education policy until the cows come home (more dairy talk!).