Carla Skladany, Coordinator of Volunteers:
Valuing Religious and Ethnic Diversity
When Carla met with Richard Andersen, Executive Director of Spirit in the Desert in 2017, she told him she was interested in being a volunteer at the retreat center. Volunteering has always been an important part of Carla’s life during the years she and her husband, Jan, lived in Downers Grove, Illinois and since they permanently moved to Carefree in 2007.
As Richard and Carla’s conversation continued, Richard surprised her when he asked her to be the Coordinator of Volunteers for Spirit in the Desert. Carla said, “One of the reasons I accepted the opportunity is because of the retreat center’s commitment to welcoming people of all religious faiths and ethnic diversity.”
Carla explained that she grew up in Central Eastern Pennsylvania in a Lutheran family and church. While attending Dickinson College, her horizons and values expanded as she met fellow Jewish students. In the early nineteen sixties, now newly married to Jan, who was in the military, Carla’s concern for human rights and justice deepened as a teacher in the segregated schools of Augusta, Georgia. She said, “Segregation struck me as so wrong.”
A key focus for Carla and the volunteers at Spirit in the Desert is welcoming guests. She met two nuns who were checking in for their retreat. She said, “I took them to their room, opened the door, and one woman turned to me saying, ‘O Carla, what a beautiful room! My room on retreats is usually more like a cell.’ I was delighted to give them a tour of the campus and make sure they felt welcomed.”
Carla is eager to speak with people who are interested in becoming a part of Spirit in the Desert’s developing volunteer service. There are opportunities in hospitality, assisting at special events and dinners, grounds keeping, and there are discussions about developing a coffee bar staffed by volunteers. For information, you can reach Carla at 480-334-4104.