It’s safe to say that as Lasallian Volunteers, each of us feel called to serve and want to make a significant difference in the lives around us. At Tides Family Services, the mission is centered around making that difference in the lives of at-risk children and their families.
In Rhode Island, 21.5% of children live in poverty – that means on average, one out of every five kids lives in poverty. We all come from different walks of life, and many of us can’t say that we grew up in poverty or in a household where the adult(s) had to choose between paying utilities and buying food. We take lunch breaks, we eat dinner as communities, but do we pause to be thankful and pray for those who don’t know where their next meal will come from?
Crying hysterically, one client that I interacted with this past week reached out for support. I picked her up from home and took her out for a meal and conversation. She opened up to me about being bullied, harassed, lied to and abused. After our hour-long conversation, I praised her for seeking help in a positive way versus harming herself, which she had done in the past. What she needed that day was someone to listen to her, empathize with her, and not judge her.
The families that I work with don’t necessarily have the strong ties that many of us are familiar with. Many of our kids don’t have a strong support system that can make sure they get to school daily and on time, have clothes for the harsh winters or humid summers, or even enroll them in extra curricular activities on weekends and during summer vacations.
During the service year, LVs have various opportunities to connect with one another and reunite. We introduce ourselves at Orientation, we fill each other in on how we’ve been doing at Midyear Retreat, and we say our see-you-laters at Debriefing. With such strong bonds with one another, we link up for different holidays such as Labor Day and Thanksgiving, we exercise together at the LVs Run, and we celebrate each other’s birthdays and personal victories as much as travel time will allow. We have literally formed a family away from our individual families.
Let us all remember to be thankful for our blessings, great and small, and to continue to pray for those who are searching the world for a void that only God can truly fill.
Each of us has so much to be thankful for, and I hope that we never forget to be appreciative and humble human beings.
 Richard Salit, ” One in five children in R.I. living in poverty, Kids Count report says,” Providence Journal, Jan. 21, 2015, http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20150121-one-in-five-children-in-r.i.-living-in-poverty-kids-count-report-says.ece
Andrea Guyton is a first year LV serving at Tides Family Services. She is a 2014 graduate of Christian Brothers University.