Site: La Salle School – Albany, NY
College: Christian Brothers University
What do you do?
La Salle is a residential placement facility for court adjudicated youth. At La Salle, I work in the recreation and campus ministry departments. In the recreation department, we provide a variety of enriching on-campus activities such as intramural sports, game tourneys and experiential education groups. In addition, we also have an outdoor adventure component in which we take the guys camping, teach them about the wilderness around them, different outdoor skills, and go on many other trips such as climbing, canoeing and caving. Through campus ministry, we are able to plan service learning trips to shelters, soup kitchens and other facilities to help the less fortunate around the area.
Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?
Coming out of college my decision to become a Lasallian Volunteer was based on many different things. For one, I had always enjoyed and gotten a lot out of volunteer work. Like many other people, I felt a need to give back for all of the things that I had been blessed with throughout my life. In high school and college, I was exposed to the Lasallian mission and was excited to serve such a great cause.
One thing that was unique to the LV program was living in community with the Brothers. Before coming into the program, I had feelings of uncertainty about living in a religious community but was intrigued by it. However, since coming to Albany, I only have positive things to say about it. The Brothers are incredibly generous and giving people. Not only have I benefited from their altruistic attitude, but I have also seen how much they do for others at La Salle and around the community. In addition, they are a great resource and happy to offer advice from their years of experience.
Throughout my service so far, I have gotten all that I hoped to get out of the program and more. I am still amazed that even though I am attempting to serve others, I so often am getting so much back myself. I am constantly learning more about what I am doing and the world around me. My work with the people at La Salle, students and staff, has been enjoyable and very rewarding. Honestly, I cannot think of a better way to have spent the last two years.
Which of the core values (Faith, Community, Service) are most important to you? Why?
When it comes to the core values of the Lasallian mission, I do not think I can separate one as being more important than the others. Each value compliments and comes together with the others to form the experience. While applying for the program, I was excited about the possibility to develop in each of these three areas. Although service was my primary focus, I saw it as a great opportunity to work on my faith life and have a community living experience. Now well into my second year, I have a better understanding of how they all work together.
For example, while working with the populations and in the areas that we serve, it is a common trend to not see the fruits of our labor immediately. One has to have faith that their work is not in vain and continue with the daily grind. Only through pushing past the hard days are we able to see the benefits and rewards of our work. Within those hard days, community life offers support and escape from frustrating times.
Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
As I stated earlier, I cannot think of a better way to have spent the last couple of years of my life. The rewards of the Lasallian Volunteer program are numerous and varied. For one, it is an easy step out of college into a real world job. Within the program, the large Lasallian community, who supports you and wants you to succeed surrounds you. As recent graduates, we are placed in locations that truly need our help and, often, would not have the services we provide if there were not volunteers. In volunteering, you are given the opportunity to truly make a difference in the world around you.
In addition, the opportunity to serve in different places around the country is priceless. By becoming cultured and seeing how others live, we are able to gain a better appreciation of our experiences growing up. Understanding the cycle of poverty and the value of education allows us to see the truth about the world around us.
Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?
The LV program places young professionals in areas where their energy and passion are most needed and make a difference. However, not only does a donation help the youth that the LV serves, but it also helps to create socially conscious professionals. Each LV is educated by their experience and, as they leave the program, take that knowledge with them to serve others. A donation is an investment in the future of education and social services. Of course, this is only possible with the financial help of each donor.