When I reflect back on my first experience at the Brother Charles Kitson Institute for Formation of Lasallian Volunteers (Kitson) in 2018, I think about how different it was compared to my second one in 2019. A lot of information is presented to you, and you have to take in and process all of it over the course of about nine days. As a first-year volunteer, it can feel a bit overwhelming, and I remember feeling that way after my first time at Kitson. There’s so much you want to take in and remember, for your community and your site, but it can be hard to understand these things in the context of your community and site when you haven’t spent a lot of time there.
As a returner, I felt like everything was a lot less abstract because I could reflect back to my first year of service. When we talked about the Founder and community, I could put the faces of the Brothers and my community members into the presentations. It gave me more ideas on how to take part in community and new ways that I could be a part of it. For our presentation on support networks, I could visualize how others had helped me during my service year and share that experience with everyone else.
Diversity day helped me to reorient how I see my own privileges in my life and how I take them with me into service. It also prepared me to ask myself difficult questions and motivated me to work even harder.
David Wallace, executive director of LaSalle School in Albany, New York, who serves as site director for the ministry’s three LVs, gave us an opportunity to reflect on what we can do for our students and clients. He talked about trauma informed care and how we can take this knowledge of how trauma may influence our students and clients and work to improve on how we respond. This session really helped us prepare to serve those in our ministries.
For our site service day, which dives deep into our job roles, I felt so much more prepared to ask our presenters questions and had concrete examples of conflicts that I needed help navigating. I could ask Lisa Verstraete, LV 00-02, or Tanya Heifort, LV 99-01, or any of our other presenter’s, questions that I had from my previous year and how I could have handled them better.
Our retreat day gave me something to think about as well. We spent a big part of the day meditating and taking time for ourselves. This space that we were given to practice self-care is an example of how well we are taken care of. I deeply appreciate the program for how much they not only care about our students and clients but us as well. Helping us to take care of ourselves is one of the many things about the LV program that I am thankful for.
It was such a great opportunity for growth and I’m so blessed and thankful to be a part of an organization like the Lasallian Volunteers that gives us these opportunities to improve ourselves for those we serve. We are really fortunate to have our presenters join us and have as many generous people willing to take time out of their lives, for us and our students and clients.
My second year at Kitson gave me a greater opportunity to reflect on how fortunate I am to have these resources and to have all of the people willing to help us every year. The LV program is a powerful experience, and each year when we attend the Brother Charles Kitson Institute, we are given an opportunity to reflect on ourselves and prepare for our upcoming year. It is an incredible spiritual and personal growth opportunity and I am so proud to be given this chance and to be a Lasallian Volunteer.
Jake Remsing is a second-year volunteer serving at La Salle Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a 2018 graduate from Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga.