If you would have asked me last year what I planned to do after graduation, I would have responded with going to Africa or finding a job in a Church as a Youth Minister. I did not think about becoming a Lasallian Volunteer until recruiters came to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and talked about the program. As I completed my application, the more excited I became. Before I knew it reality struck, and I was offered a position to be a Lasallian Volunteer.
If I had to describe my experience in one word it would be: electrifying, in every way. When I was told I was going to be placed in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, working for Tides Family Services I did not know what to think. Thoughts running through my head were: “Smallest state, what is there to do? Tides Family Services, what’s that? Living with four other LVs and a Christian Brother… I don’t know about that”. After my site visit I could feel that I was being called to the Program. I fell in love with Tides immediately and wanted to start immediately.
Tides Family Services is a wonderful organization that serves high-risk youth in Rhodes Island, founded by Brother Michael Reis, in 1983. Those we serve face many challenges and issues. As a Lasallian Volunteer, my job is to track and visit those from Tides. I am part of a three-person team, between the three of us we track 15-33 youth at any time. When I first heard about those we serve and my role in the agency I wasn’t so sure if I was the right person for the job. However, the more time I spend with those I serve and learn more about the mission of Tides Family Services the more I fall in love with my role as a Case Manager. Everyday I spend time building relationships with both the parents and clients. Tides is an impactful agency that has statistically made a difference in the lives of those we serve.
I may not be every client’s favorite Case Manager, I may not be able to prevent all my clients from being placed, or put into training schools. One thing I do know as a wise person one told me, “It’s the little things in life that count, it’s the little things in life that people remember.” I may not make a difference everyday, but if one little thing that I do can put a smile on my clients face I know that I’m on the right path to making a difference in their lives. That smile means something. As Thich Naht Hanh once said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Being an LV and serving at Tides is a joy. It truly is electrifying in many different ways. As I made my decision to become an LV I thought one door was closing. However, I did not realize an even bigger one filled with an immense amount of opportunities was about to open.
Catie McNamara is a current first year LV serving in West Warwick, Rhode Island at Tides Family Services and a 2012 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.