Site: San Miguel School – Tulsa, OK
College: Mercyhurst College
What do you do?
I teach 6th-8th grade social studies to 67 amazing children. Many of them come from unfortunate situations and live everyday struggling to find answers to many of their important questions. I also help out by transporting all of the athletes to their games and I am the only individual to proudly carry the title of 6th grade boys volleyball coach. Yet my most esteemed position would have to be the breakfast bar barista! Serving generic and non-sweetened cereal to teenagers is hard work!
Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?
I do not know why I was born into such wealth and love, but for me to continue my life and not share what I’ve been blindly given is unacceptable. St. John Baptist de LaSalle chose to teach the children who no one else would teach. He saw hope among the hopeless. While I rarely see leaps of progress day to day, I know what I am doing is morally right, my responsibility, and truly necessary. The satisfaction I receive from knowing my place among the children at San Miguel Tulsa is enough to carry me through the hardest of days.
What have you discovered about poverty from your work?
I have discovered poverty is multi-dimensional. It exists in many ugly shades and it’s confusing. Poverty is more than just not having much money. Poverty is a wide gaping hole in someone’s heart. It’s the absence one feels when they realize there is no price to mend the broken heart. Whether a child cannot afford a new pair of sneakers or a child cannot afford a father to come to a sporting event, they see the that i’s are not dotted and the t’s are not crossed and it simply does not make sense to them.
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?
My students need attention. They need someone who is willing to engage them when they do or say something inappropriate. They need someone who is willing to work with them even after they have done something wrong. They need someone who recognizes their worth as a human being. I would like to think the most important thing I can offer is my smile. It is the simplest way of conveying, “I think you’re something else”.
What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?
Living in an intentional community is something I’ve been wanting to do all my life. One can experience life in many different ways. I have been given the privilege to live with the Christian Brothers, a group of religious men who have dedicated their lives to educating the poor and serving others.
Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
I wanted to volunteer knowing I had a purpose at a site in need and knowing I had the love and support of the people around me. Between the LV staff, fellow LV’s, and the Brothers I live with, I feel I have all of the support in the world to do a task which asks for everything you got. If that’s not enough consider this fact which made it a done deal for me: More than one in three volunteers renew for an additional year. Something is apparently working with this program.
Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?
If someone desires to work for free, love with no extra strings attached, willingly enter the presence of the hopeless and completely devote themselves to making a difference for an entire year let us all provide the assistance it takes to making those desires, realities. Penny by penny. Dollar for dollar.