Annie Harala

Site: La Salle High School – Yakima, WA

College: St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN

What do you do?

• Junior English and Drama teacher
• Assistant Campus Minister
• Assistant Tennis Coach
• Public Relations and Development
• Director of “Follies” (an all school talent production)
• Substitute Teacher

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?

I knew that after graduating from college I wanted to join a volunteer program. After looking at various programs, I chose the Lasallian Volunteers because of the program’s emphasis on faith, community, and service. I also wanted to have the experience to serve the poor while living in a religious community. My hopes for the program have been realized. I have grown in my faith, come to understand the importance of community, and have had the opportunity to serve many people that have changed my life.

What is the most important “thing,” do you think, that your students need from you? What do you do to try to provide this?

The most important part of my service to La Salle High School is the positive connection I have with each student. Today, young people have too many negative world influences. I strive to be a positive connection that my students can turn to for guidance, safety, and support. I make sure that my classroom is a safe environment for everyone to learn. I’m also available to each student on a regular basis if they need to work through a problem, get help with homework, or if they need to hear a cheesy joke to lighten their day.

Have you noticed any signs of success in your work? What are they?

My Drama class is extremely special and dear to my heart. I started the year with eight students from all grades, maturity levels, and social and economic classes. After a rough first day of silence from the students, I made a promise to myself that I would help to create a safe place for my students to express themselves on a daily basis. This goal has been surpassed through the open and supportive minds and hearts that my students bring to class each day.

How has your involvement with the Brothers affected you?

I am humbled on a daily basis by the humility that each Brother in my community portrays. My fellow Volunteers have written volumes about their experiences with this and other aspects of community which I fully embrace. The most important aspect of my life with the Brother’s has taught me that religious people are real people too. They have good and bad days, they get tired, excited, frustrated, and exhausted just like the rest of us. They have simply decided to base their lives on faith in a community of people working toward a common goal. The Brothers have helped me with the transition from college to the “real world.” If you had told me one year ago that I would be an “early to bed – early to rise person” I would have laughed you out of the room. But this is only one of the steps that they have helped me to become an adult while I live in community with the Brothers.

What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?

I chose to live with the Brother’s because I wanted to learn more about the life and teachings of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, and wanted to better understand Community Life in the Lasallian tradition. These expectations have been surpassed, and I look forward to another year of learning how to live and work with the same Community of faithful servants.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?

As a senior in college I was really scared to leave the safe haven of the “world of knowledge.” I applied to the Program knowing that my Community would offer me some support throughout the year, but I did not realize how much support is set up for each Volunteer on a national level by the LV office. The Lasallian Volunteer Program offers a network of support to each of its Volunteers. Each has a site and community director, staff and alumni mentors, and the LV staff for personal support throughout the year. The program also has three retreats a year that help to create a bond between all of the Lasallian Volunteers serving around the Unites States.

Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?

The support that the LV program has offered to me throughout this year has helped my growth immensely this year. Without the help of donors, this support would not be possible. It is my sincerest hope that you are able to help to send Lasallian Volunteers into works to build communities like that of my drama class. This work is truly filling a need in our society and it is my sincerest hope that we are able to continue the Lasallian Mission.

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