In this month’s “Ministry of the Month,” the Midwest District is featured. The ministry is John XXIII Educational Center in Racine, Wisconsin, and the Lasallian Volunteer is Theresa Havelka, LV 18-20. Theresa is a graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee.
WHAT IS JOHN XXIII EDUCATIONAL CENTER?
John XXIII Educational Center opened its doors in the fall of 2009 and is now in its 10th year of existence. John XXIII’s mission is to prepare students to graduate from high school with the skills needed for success in the workforce and in higher education. The center’s high school graduates have reached a milestone in their lifelong educational journey that gives them a beacon of hope and a path to a successful future. Since 2011, the center has had 115 seniors; 110 of the seniors graduated from high school in four years. Grades 6 to 12 are welcome to participate in the center.
HOW DID THERESA BECOME A LASALLIAN VOLUNTEER?
Theresa is a graduate of Christian Brother’s University in Memphis and had heard about Lasallian Volunteers from LVs coming to recruit. She says, “I became interested in pursuing social work during my junior year of college. As I was looking for options, I had the chance to speak to a LV alum. From there, I began looking into the program, and I connected with the mission of empowering students through education. I found it very inspiring and knew that this was a program I wanted to be a part of.”
WHAT IS THE SERVICE THAT THERESA PROVIDES?
During the school day, Theresa leads outreach groups at local middle schools, focused on topics such as self-esteem, transitioning to high school, and conflict resolution. During the after-school programs that the center offers, she facilitates the high school room, which provides academic support, grade tracking, and one-on-one meetings with students.
HOW DOES THERESA TOUCH MINDS AND HEARTS AT JOHN XXIII?
Theresa is a passionate mentor to her students. She works non-traditional hours in the sense that she does not begin her service during a typical school day and works after school to provide support during times when students often need caring adult mentors to help them look toward their futures. She says, “The students I work with often face many academic, social, and emotional challenges. The Center acts as a safe space for students to receive support in a welcoming environment. We work to not just help them academically but also work on personal goals they may be struggling with. The most important thing my students need is someone to listen to them. As much as I want to be able to change their situations, I have learned the importance of acting as someone they can trust to talk to and get advice from. Being able to connect with these students has been the biggest honor for me.”
HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED THERESA AS A LASALLIAN VOLUNTEER?
Theresa had positive interactions with Brothers during her university days at CBU. She says of living in community with them, “The Brothers dedicated to empowering people through education has inspired my outlook on my future career in social work. Seeing the work they do in these communities has given me a chance to explore my own interests in these areas.”
WHAT DOES THERESA HAVE TO SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS ABOUT LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?
“As a recent graduate who was unsure of pursuing a volunteer year, I found that it was important to step out of my comfort zone. While I am just at the beginning of my service, I have learned so much from my community and in the service I do. The LV program offers a chance for volunteers to explore their interests and support communities in need.”