Service Site: Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Brooklyn, NY
College: Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA
What do you do?
I am a part of the Campus Ministry team along side former LV (’02-’04), Melissa (Blythe) Altman. I co-facilitate day retreats and organize prayer services and school-wide masses. Another big part of my job is organizing and chaperoning community service projects for the students of Bishop Loughlin. I am also a family mentor for the House System which is similar to the one in the Harry Potter books
Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?
Throughout my high school education my passion for serving others grew! Since my freshman year of high school, LVs have had a strong presence. It was during my high school years that I was introduced to the LV program. At first I was confused why these recent college graduates would want to live with the Brothers who, at the time, I thought were a lot older than my parents. In high school I was even considered the one in our class most likely to become a Lasallian Volunteer, something that did not make me happy.
It is very true what they say, you never appreciate what you have until it is gone. When I graduated from high school I knew I missed something. I missed my connection to the Brothers and the Lasallian mission. I became a collegian and worked during the summers under Marilyn Paquette, a former LV (’99-’01). It was her enthusiasm for this program that struck me and I started to seriously consider joining. I made my decision to join based on the lasting influence of the LVs and LV alums that I had encountered. I felt that by joining, I would not only would I remain connected to the Lasallian family but I would in fact be working for the mission that I had benefited from as a student.
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?
For the students at Loughlin, I think the biggest thing they need is someone who is willing to listen to them and support them. The last period of the day ends at 2:23 p.m. but my day does not end there. I can think of a number of times where I was closing up the office and a student walked up and wanted to talk. Since I am not in the classroom, this is my way of getting to know my students. My students and I talk about a wide range of topics. We discuss everything from family events to relationship problems to where to go to college, with an occasional rant about that one teacher who gives too much homework. I have found that even if a problem is not resolved in our after-school conversations the student feels at ease because they were able to express themselves.
Which of the core values (Faith, Community, Service) are most important to you? Why?
If I was asked this question even a year ago my answer would be community. This year however I have realized that if just one of the core values is not present it is hard to understand the mission. In February I went to see Brother Gerard Rummery. He spoke on association. One thing that I will remember from his talk was that he spoke about the core values like doorways, each leading to the other and complimenting each other. This has especially been true with my faith. The work I have been doing as a Lasallian Volunteer as well as my relationships with the Brothers I live with have all helped me strengthen my faith. I feel without one of the core values present I would not be able to fully work towards the mission.
What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?
Moving in with the Brothers was the scariest part about joining this program. I never lived with any guys before, let alone men between the ages of 60 and 72 years old. Little did I know that these men would become a very important part of my life. My experience living with the Brothers has been amazing. I never would have imagined spending an entire afternoon watching Law & Order: SVU with Bro. Joe, even though we know how each episode ends; growing to enjoy watching sports games on mute with Bro. Bill because he gives better commentary than any announcers out there; or postponing lunch with Bro. Ed because he is willing to help my students create their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes three days before Halloween. I could not have asked for better Brothers to live with. These are men who have dedicated their lives to the mission of John Baptist de la Salle. Living with them not only is entertaining, it has also given me a better understanding of why I do what I do as an LV.
Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
It is such a great opportunity. The LV program gives you the ability to experience a new city and pushes you outside your comfort zone. Becoming a Lasallian Volunteer was the best decision I have made. I had visited New York before but living in this city and serving in the Bronx and Brooklyn has allowed me to see this extraordinary city in a whole new light. That is the best part about this program. Although you may serve in a city that you think you understand, volunteering at the ministries LVs serve at offers a deeper understanding of the realities of the city.