Kevin Kuczynski

Site: Lasallian Educational Opportunities Center – Oakland, CA

College: Chestnut Hill College

What do you do?

I am the librarian so I keep track of and update our library. I also monitor and assist the students if they need any help with their homework. I work with a variety of subjects with the Junior High students but with the High School students I tend to specialize, helping them with their English classes and editing papers and college applications. I also teach ESL once a week in the morning.

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

I chose to become a Lasallian Volunteer because of all of the unique and satisfying opportunities that the program offered me right out of college. Also, I was unsure of what I wanted to do right after graduation but I knew that this program would give me new experiences to help me consider my future endeavors. I looked in to other volunteer programs but none of them offered each of the great opportunities found with the Lasallian Volunteers. Opportunities such as traveling and the support system that both relies on other volunteers and the Christian Brothers who have dedicated their lives to serving the poor. When I first applied and was accepted to be a Lasallian Volunteer there was a lot I didn’t know about the Christian Brothers and their mission but as I went through orientation and began my year of service I quickly learned what the mission was as I became a part of it.

My hopes of the Lasallian Volunteer experience have been realized and my expectations have been exceeded. However, I also feel that there is still more to accomplish. I have been having a great year so far at the LEO Center and I feel that there is more I can do, that there is still room for me to grow. This is why I plan on staying another year.

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

I feel that the most important “thing” that I do in my work is that I am a role model who is there every day when students need a quiet place to study and do some extra learning. Even if I don’t necessarily help a particular student that day, they still see me at work every day helping other students and I am always available if they do need help. A few high school students might not work in my room but when they need a book or a paper edited, they always know where to find me and as they walk by I’ll hear, “Hello Mr. Kevin!” I feel that it’s very important for the students to have someone reliable that they can always depend on. That’s one of the main goals of the LEO Center and that is what I aim to be.

I first noticed this when I was late one afternoon for the Junior High students because I had to pick a visitor up at the airport. When I arrived a little bit later, Kristin, who had been covering my room, told me that students were asking about Mr. Kevin. I think it’s great that they’re so used to seeing me every day at the LEO Center that when I wasn’t there for about an hour they were asking about me. Then, of course when I did get there, they were glad to see me because it was right back to checking their homework followed by a few games of chess for the ones who finished their assignments.

I believe that whether I’m checking fractions, helping someone find a book, or just quietly monitoring the library, the students depend on the reliability of my presence. That’s why I make sure that I am always at work everyday, on time, and willing to help them at a moments notice.

How has your involvement with the Brothers affected you?

My involvement with the Christian Brothers has had an enormous impact on my work at the LEO Center and has inspired me to have that same effect on my students. Unlike many Lasallian Volunteers I don’t come from a Brother’s school. In fact my high school was run by the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales and my college was run by the Sisters of Saint Joseph so I have a wide experience with different religious orders. I suppose one common aspect all three have is a desire to educate and to teach wherever they are needed.

The two brothers I live and work with, Br. Robb Wallace and Br. Anthony Lenz, are great inspirations for me and keep me motivated. Even though they are very different in many ways, they both share a very strong dedication to the mission of St. La Salle and to the LEO Center. On the other hand, their differences are very helpful for me as I mentor my students. For example, Br. Robb is very well read and great when it comes to grammar. I always know who to ask if I have any English questions, especially Shakespeare. Br. Anthony is more of a math person so he is who I go to right away if a student brings me some math that I’m a little rusty with. I always want to make sure that when I’m helping a student understand a new concept or just checking their work that I understand one hundred percent what I’m dealing with and both Brothers help keep me on that track.

I also work with LVs Ashley Prevost, Kristin Retzlof, and Alum Katie Jann. They answer my numerous questions and offer other support. Whether I need help from Mr. Gonzalez, our director, one of the Brothers, or someone else on staff I know that our main inspiration comes from the founder St. La Salle because we all work for the betterment of the students and support each other.

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

I would recommend the LV Program to a college graduate considering volunteer work because of the unique opportunities to work with people in different parts of the country but also to build your own faith along side the structure of the Christian Brothers community.

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