Q&A with Ken Kato, U.S. Army Reserve Soldier and Community Interpreter Services Staff Member
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we spoke with U.S. Army Reserves soldier, Ken Kato, who serves as a Customer Service Associate for Catholic Charities Boston’s Community Interpreter Services. From working with others to achieve a common goal, to being a part of something larger than oneself, Ken says his role at the Agency allows him to harness many of the skills and values he learned in the military. Read on to find out more.
When did you join the U.S. Military and why?
I joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 2013, when I was 30 years old. I was born and raised in Uganda, but I had been working with the U.S. military for two years in Iraq before moving to the U.S. I wanted to continue doing my part, and I liked the idea of being a part of something larger than myself.
What has your service consisted of so far?
I went for basic training in South Carolina and then transitioned to trade school, where I studied Logistics and Equipment Management. In 2016, I moved to our U.S. Army Reserve Unit in Brockton, where I’ve been since. My responsibilities include overseeing our fuel systems, setting up fuel supply points, and managing vehicles and transportation that are used in the field, from helicopters to planes. Depending on mission needs, my duty days might fall during the week, but for the most part, they are on the weekends, one weekend a month, and two to three weeks a year. Being in the Army Reserves, we are prepared to be deployed at any given time.
What led you to join Catholic Charities Boston, and what do you do at the Agency now?
I joined Catholic Charities in 2016 as a security guard. Being an immigrant, having come from Uganda, the services I saw being provided by the Agency really caught my eye. I felt this is the place I needed to be. The values instilled in me growing up – compassion, empathy, kindness – were being embraced by Catholic Charities, and that meant a lot to me. Eventually, Marjean [Vice President of Refugee and Immigrant Services] afforded me an opportunity to be part of the mission and join the Community Interpreter Services staff as a Customer Service Associate. Today, I primarily work with healthcare organizations who are seeking interpreters. I am elated to be part of the organization.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from being a member of the U.S. military?
I think it’s taught me to appreciate the fact that we all come from different backgrounds and walks of life, and everyone has a story to tell. Allowing oneself to share and learn from your neighbors’ experiences is eye-opening. Being a part of this fabric, that in spite of all the different backgrounds, we share values and common goals and are a part of something larger than myself, is very rewarding. It’s similar to being a part of the mission at Catholic Charities- being a part of a team in which everyone has something to bring to the table.”
To learn more about how you can support Community Interpreter Services, and Catholic Charities Boston’s other life-changing programs, visit our Ways to Give page here.