College: University of California, Berkeley
What do you do?
I serve court adjudicated youth, clients who have recently been released from the Rhode Island Training School. The Youth Transition Center’s (YTC) main objective is to steadily provide the proper services necessary to transition our clients’ back into the community.
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 I believe in exceeding human potential, especially when you have been born into the challenges faced by poverty and neglect.
Like all human beings our clients carry experiences that no one can ever remove. In every experience there are opportunities, lessons to be learned, and new beginnings to unfold. Our clients carry these past treasures that are waiting to be converted into strengths and success stories. As a caseworker I can only be the bridge that leads them
to self-empowerment. I ask them to question their actions, surroundings, and the forces of poverty – the forces that they often do not notice controlling them. I show them the light switch, but only they can turn it on. Keeping it on of course requires help, so my next task requires coaching them to overcome the fear of asking for help.
No one makes it through life alone.
What have you discovered about poverty from your work?
I have discovered that poverty is directly related to the hopelessness that surrounds the inconsistancies of a home.
Faith is the foundation for everything that my life is based on. I feel like my faith brings me a purpose and happiness; without my faith, I would be lost. It keeps me rooted in Christ and points me in the right direction.
Like most human beings, our clients have made mistakes, mistakes that can be corrected if accompanied by the trust and guidance that we can provide. While many who read the words “trust” and “guidance” can immediately relate to a teacher who taught them how to confront the fears of literacy or promptly remember parents who were always there, most of our clients are raised without these experiences. Far too many “role models” have let them down. Too many teachers looked the other way and gave up. Our clients are no different than you and I. Our agency reaches out to them with strength based approaches. We target what works within the family and build on it.
My biggest disappointment as a volunteer is that I cannot build a level of trust and guidance with every single client I work with. There are still clients who refuse to ask for help, especially when help is so near. Instead of getting frustrated, I just keep on keeping on. If you keep digging out of life’s garden, your harvest will grow.
Have you noticed any signs of success in your work? What are they?
Success at Tides Family Services comes in a unique fashion. Of course witnessing my clients transition into higher education after finishing a journey through the court system is inspiring. However, sometimes success can be as simply as a handshake that ends a long conversation, a reassurance that my clients actually listened and believed the message I just relayed.
I have been involved with the Brothers since I entered Cathedral High School in the 9th grade. The Brothers have harnested life’s journey in some its most crucial episodes. As a Lasallian Volunteer , I feel as though their mission is manifesting right before my eyes.
Which of the core values (Faith, Community, Service) are most important to you? Why?
Community is the most important value because home is where the heart it is. Our community has become my home. It is a home that breeds the wisdom, spirituality, and compassion necessary to serve as a volunteer.
Do you see yourself as different now from your friends from college as a result of the LV experience? How so?
A lot of my friends were service driven. I appreciate all of the knowledge and wisdom we shared as students and providers for our communities. My LV experience has ignited conversations that are themed with appreciation, respect and love.
If you could project ahead a few years and look back to now, how do you think your experiences with those you serve and with the Brothers will have changed you?
I would imagine that my experience as a volunteer will continue to shine the understanding that will keep me in touch with the realities of the world. I am certain I will be thankful for the blessings of a Lasallian education, and all the guidance the Brothers provided throughout the years.