Site: De La Salle at Blessed Sacrament Elementary – Memphis, TN
College: Loyola University Chicago
What do you do?
I am the librarian for the students in Kindergarten thru 2nd grade and I teach computer and technology. I also help run the after-school program.
Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?
I chose to be a Lasallian Volunteer because I realized how important an education is and how blessed I was to receive the one I did. In high school, I had a religion teacher, Ms. Gillespie, who would tell us stories of her year of doing service and how much that impacted her life. I found her experiences interesting and wanted to have something similar in my life. I continued to do service in college, going on Alternative Break Immersions and I learned just how much bigger the world is than Philadelphia (where I grew up) and Chicago (where I went to college). During my senior year, I finally realized how I could volunteer for a year and chose the Lasallian Volunteers. What drew me to the LV program was the emphasis on education and I knew that was where I could make the biggest impact as a volunteer.
My hopes for the year were to make a positive impact on just one student’s life, and to learn how I could live a simple life while working to help those who are not as blessed as I am. Within the program as a whole, I have made wonderful friends for life, and have truly benefited from everything the program has taught me about the Brothers, community life, the poor and myself. My experience has been immeasurable and there is no doubt that I will spend the rest of my life with wonderful memories of the students and the great times we shared.
There is a quote from Leo Buscaglia that goes, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” This quote exemplifies how I try to live every day of my year of service. My “thing” is everything that Leo Buscaglia says because those simple actions truly can turn a life around. I am able to see this best through my work with the after-school program. This year I have been able to create an atmosphere that allows for the students to do their homework and play. I have also been able to work with them one-on-one, allowing me to connect more deeply with them. Some days, my role is to give an encouraging word, to laugh with the students, or to give a hug when they are feeling down.
I have always seen faith as the most important core value because it is through faith that you are then you are able to do service for others and live better in community. This year I have learned that I have to work at all three in order to be happy. The Brothers have definitely encouraged my prayer life and have helped me to find God in all things. When praying, I am able to better understand the experiences of my day and see where God was acting in my life.
Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?
I would recommend a contribution to the LV program because it not only helps the program but our students. By being able to have LVs at sites, we are able to make positive impacts on those we work with in many capacities. The skill set each LV learns is irreplaceable, and everyone leaves the program with a better understanding of how much bigger the world is than them.