With the theme “Your LV Hike,” the 2018-2019 Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) gathered as a cohort for the final time at the annual Debriefing Retreat from May 24-27, 2019, at La Salle Manor in Plano, Illinois. Their time together was an opportunity to reflect, rest and reconnect with one another.
Facilitators Chris Hueg, LV 11-13, and Samantha Almanza, LV 09-11, invited the LVs to think about their journey and who accompanied them on the path. The facilitators asked to join LVs on their hike for the weekend and immersed themselves into the role of guides, using imagery, props and music.
“Though this was my 8thDebriefing, I felt this was the most impactful because of my role as facilitator,” shared Hueg. “The conversations and reflections of the volunteers provided me with a deeper thinking about my vocation as educator and why I continue to be involved with the Lasallian mission. I continue to return because of the community of like-minded young professionals and the sense of renewal it gives me as I complete my own academic year. I am refreshed and re-energized to return to work and be available as my best self. I had many mentors and Brothers who influenced me during my time as a volunteer, and this is just one way of giving back.”
“I enjoyed accompanying the volunteers on their ‘LV Hike,’” Almanza shared.“The experiences I had on my own ‘hike,’ serving at The San Miguel School of Providence and living at the St. Joseph’s Lasallian Community helped cement the values that I live my life by, especially community and hospitality. When I completed my years of service, I promised myself that I would help promote the LV program in any way that I could. Being a facilitator helped me realize how much the LV program has positively shaped my life and took me on trails that I would never have set out on my own.”
Shanae Farrell, LV 12-14, Kenenna Amuzie, LV 12-14, Jon Vanegas, LV 16-18, Abby Michels, LV 15-17, and Michael Phipps, LV 09-11, joined Almanza and Hueg as alumni group leaders, while Brothers Ed Phelan, Michael Reis, Paul Joslin and Michael Kadow accompanied the 36 LVs. Alums present helped facilitate sessions on what comes next, highlighting going to graduate school, returning for a second or third year, or going to work.
First-year LV Savannah Mattox, who is serving at San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona, said the retreat prepared her for her next step by reenergizing her as she looks ahead to returning to Tucson for another year of border immersions.
“The returning volunteers began to re-connect intentionally during the weekend so we could learn about each other’s journey’s so far and have each other’s back this upcoming year,” shared Mattox. “We all know that we will have challenges and joys this upcoming service year, and it was great to know that we can relate to each other on those levels. I really felt that we wanted to be there for each other to support each other through our next year together.”
When reflecting on her experience and the Debriefing Retreat, second-year LV Jessica Kaluzny, who is serving at De La Salle Elementary in Memphis, Tennessee, shared, “I was able to appreciate all those that have been with me these past two years on my ‘LV Hike.’ Relationships I’ve built with the cohort, the LV staff and all of the Brothers who accompany us have all meant so much to me. It was great to affirm those relationships, celebrate the end of service, and soak in the last time together as a cohort. Over the past two years I have grown so much professionally and personally! I can’t wait to use the skills I’ve gained and the gifts I’ve recognized in the next stage of my life! The biggest lesson I’ve learned is simply to love, and I am so excited to be propelled into my next journey with a desire to continue to show love to all I encounter!”
Volunteer Joel Moore, who will pursue graduate studies following his service as an LV, said the retreat allowed him to take a breath and focus on the big picture.
“The facilitators this year were so incredible and helped all the volunteers to reflect on their time in the program,” said Moore. “The metaphor of ‘the hike’ was a strong theme that carried us through the weekend and helped me to envision my journey. I enjoyed the show-and-share presentations most of all. Each group did an incredible job being creative and thoughtful. The presentations were honest, emotionally revealing, and entertaining to watch.”
On Sunday evening, the program recognized the 19 LVs who will be exiting the program to pursue graduate school and work. Two of the exiting LVs will join their ministries as staff members for the next school year. Six of the exiting LVs will pursue master’s degrees as LV Scholars at Lasallian colleges/universities.