February 2014: Ronald Pollak

Ron Pollak, 13-14, Cathedral High School, El Paso, TX

Ron Pollak, 13-14, Cathedral High School, El Paso, TX

Service Site: Cathedral High School, El Paso

College: Lewis University

What do you do?

I am the Campus Minister. I plan the school liturgies, coordinate the retreats, and moderate Lasallian Youth, which is a community service group. The Liturgies include monthly Mass, prayer services, and blessings. Campus Ministry has four retreats each semester, one for each class. Together with Br. Mariano, we prepare the student leaders for the retreat, set the schedule for the day, and make sure all the logistics are taken care of. This year, Lasallian Youth is making an effort to serve the local community. For example, we have volunteered at Ronald McDonald House, collected food for two local shelters, and helped build access ramps at homes in El Paso.

Which of the core values (Faith, Community, Service) are most important to you?  

I think Community is one of the core values that often gets overlooked. Yes, we live in community with the Christian Brothers, but do most people know what that entails? This year I have grown the most in the community aspect of being a Lasallian Volunteer. Being the only volunteer in my community, I had to really define what participating in community meant for me. I had no one else to compare it to. Aside from learning how to live with a group of Christian Brothers, I have also become immersed in the Cathedral High School and El Paso community. Sometimes you have to intentionally participate in community, like going to a basketball game when the day of work has worn you out, but I have found that those around you that you experience this with are always supportive.

 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?

Ron with Bro. Nick and Bro. Al

Ron with Bro. Nick and Bro. Al

As far as how living with the Brothers will have affected me, I believe I will have a better understanding of how to live as a man of faith. They are great examples of how to incorporate your faith into your everyday life. Living with the Brothers really gives you an opportunity to see how human they are. They struggle with the same things everyone else does. The only difference is that they have made a lifelong commitment to live a truly Catholic and Lasallian lifestyle. The Cathedral El Paso community that I serve has already changed me. I have learned to never forget who helped me to achieve what I have. The parents and alumni humble me with how much they give back, not only monetarily, but also in their service and support.

What is a way you have been changed/challenged by a relationship or an interaction you’ve had in your volunteer experience?

I believe my relationship with one of the Brothers in my community has both challenged and intrigued me. He is almost 100% deaf. I was excited when I found out about this because I took two semesters of sign language in college. I thought I could practice my sign language with him; I learned quickly that he doesn’t know any sign language. At dinners, I have made a conscious effort to either include him in the conversation, or ask him something about his past that he can share with us. I have always enjoyed dinners alone with him because I have him tell me stories about him as a young Brother or growing up in a German speaking part of central Texas.

About 4 months ago he received a cochlear implant to restore hearing in one of his ears. It takes about 10 months to re-learn how to hear with it, so it has been interesting following his progress. I will admit it gets aggravating at times when I have to repeat myself more than once to him, but I cannot wait for him to gain more hearing back. He is a Brother who has accomplished a lot and always has good stories to share.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?

The LV program is not only a great opportunity to give back to the Lasallian world after you graduate, but it also is a valuable time for personal growth and transition into the working world. The LV program sets you up for success. They send you to an established community that is ready to incorporate you into their routine. You get visited twice during your service year by the staff to make sure they are covering all areas of support you may need.  You also have a nationwide network of current LVs as well as LV alumni. They are always there for you when you need it. It’s hard to find a program that offers as much as the Lasallian Volunteers program does.


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