September: Ocean Tides School

In this month’s “Ministry of the Month” we feature Ocean Tides School in Narragansett, Rhode Island, which is part of the District of Eastern North America. Brianna Ruezga is a first-year Lasallian Volunteer (LV) and a 2020 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.

What is the Ocean Tides School?

Ocean Tides is a Lasallian school and residential program that is committed to providing a challenging, yet safe and healthy learning environment designed to meet the social, emotional, behavioral and intellectual needs of each individual. The young men who attend are in grades seven through 12. Ocean Tides School offers a full high school diploma, is licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Education and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In addition, Ocean Tides offers a certified special education program and career/technical education programming.

How did Brianna learn about Lasallian Volunteers?

Brianna learned about Lasallian Volunteers during her time at Saint Mary’s College. She says, “I decided to apply to be a Lasallian Volunteer because faith, service and community are important to me. I am passionate and excited to work with at-risk youth, I appreciate living in community, and I am dedicated to growing in my faith.”

What is the service that Brianna provides at Ocean Tides?

Brianna is a social services case manager. She assists social workers with various follow ups and reports on youth participation, including weekend passes/planning. In addition, she assists the program director with psycho-educational groups, assists in social services documentation, filing, chart audits and additional tracking. Finally, she assists with managing SOAR surveys, approved family communication activities and various other activities as assigned.

Which of our core values of Lasallian Volunteers is most important to Brianna?

Direct service is the reason many young people join Lasallian Volunteers. Brianna is passionate about her work with the young men of Ocean Tides School. She says, “I would say service is the most important core value to me. I studied psychology because I have always wanted to do more for people. I particularly feel called to serve youth that are underserved, low income, black, brown, etc. I feel called to serve youth in areas where they lack resources and need extra love and support.”

How has COVID-19 impacted how you care for students or clients?

Ocean Tides School never closed as much of the country turned to shelter in place. Because the students are residential, the school had to quickly adapt to the CDC protocols to keep students, staff and the Brothers who live in the adjacent community safe. Brianna says of this, “Given that the students live here and leave rarely, I try and find pockets of time every day to spend with just them. I make it a priority to enter their spaces, whether that be in their classrooms, the gym or their courts/fields, just to say hello, catch up with them in general and to show support.”

How has living with the De La Salle Christian Brothers impacted Brianna?

As a graduate of Saint Mary’s College, Brianna encountered the Brothers on campus as teachers, advisors and in her daily experiences. Living with the Brothers has enriched her experience as an LV. Brianna says of her community experience, “My involvement with the Brothers has changed me quite a bit. I reflect after I spend time with them, as I think back to our conversations. I try and take more of a listening approach with them, because they have lived a much longer life than I and have much wisdom and stories in general to share. Through sharing our different experiences, my perspective keeps changing and expanding.”

What would Brianna offer as advice to someone discerning a year of service?

“If you are passionate about faith, service and community, I would say to absolutely join the Lasallian Volunteers. If any of those three principles sound scary and daunting or they are generally something a college senior would like to work more on, I would also encourage them to apply. Not only will it be a fruitful experience for the person joining the LV family, but they will impact the lives of so many in their new living and working communities.”

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