This entire LV experience has been eye-opening for me. Since graduating from Christian Brothers University just eight months ago, everything has moved quickly as I have transitioned from my home in Memphis, Tennessee, to my service site at LaSalle School in Albany, New York. In Memphis, I am well acquainted with the people, places and activities. It is definitely a place that will forever be in my heart because it is where my roots are placed. I can best describe my move to Albany as fascinating because of how different and fast-paced things are. In the five months I have been in Albany, I have created a new network of relationships with the staff, the young men and my community members at LaSalle School. The experiences I have shared with everyone here have already made me feel more comfortable as I work to be all I can be.
Arriving at LaSalle School will always be a major milestone in my life. The opportunity to work closely with the young men here has changed me over my service. In the beginning, I was anxious because I wanted to make the best impression on the young men because I knew that I would be interacting with them a lot. I wanted to be the best version of myself. As time has progressed, I feel that I have made an impact already. Nothing is more satisfying than knowing that I have helped one of them have a better day in their experience at LaSalle. The staff here at LaSalle has created a culture with the young men, which includes making sacrifices to show them that we truly want what is best for them. I have seen staff take the time to buy gifts for the young men to show them how much they care about their well-being.
As the recreational coordinator, I have seen that many of the young men have a serious passion for sporting activities. Despite the circumstances that they face in placement, they find ways to make the most of the experience and have fun. Whether it is football, kickball, basketball or dodgeball, the boys find ways to make each experience memorable. They may argue and disagree but, in the end, they make sure they support one another. They also really enjoy it when the staff joins them in games and activities. It makes things all the more competitive.
It’s gratifying to be a major cause of their happiness. The young men have made me feel welcome in my short time here. It means so much to witness the enjoyment they have when they speak to me and when they are glad to see the other staff. I really have enjoyed getting to know them through the various games, field trips and events that have been produced through LaSalle School.
In my role as a teacher assistant, I have the opportunity to see how the teachers and faculty help these young men grow professionally. They give them hope to chase their dreams and pursue college, careers and opportunities as they prepare to re-enter the world as young adults. The teachers and teacher assistants here are some of the best because of what they go through in working with the young men. Everything is centered around patience, and I have even developed more patience in my time working with them. Patience is an essential element at LaSalle, and because of that, I have worked to apply patience as a principle in my own life. When I am able to help the young men with their classwork, it helps me build even better relationships that strengthen our interactions every day. Each time I have the opportunity to help, I think about what their biggest need is. I ask myself, “How can I make things easier for them?”
One of my main purposes for being here stems from my desire to give back to the world. When I was their age, I had people in my corner to support and guide me to be the man that I am today. I think about the great men that these young boys will become as time progresses and how much this experience is important to their development. I am playing a major role in how they will grow to see the world once they are able to leave their placement. It is truly an honor to have this opportunity to plant seeds in the young men as they take on their futures for years to come.
I am thankful to have the support of my community, the staff and the young men. Things certainly have not been easy in my season of transition, but I work to learn all I can from every challenge I am up against. The overall lesson of this experience is that it is important to stretch from your comfort zone. With having many responsibilities, it is important that I organize things effectively. As my time here at LaSalle goes on, I know that I will transform personally in the way I interact with young people. I aim one day to have my own counseling practice working with youth and young adults, and this experience is the foundation of where my journey begins.
Calvin Gill is a first-year LV serving at LaSalle School in Albany, New York. He is a 2020 graduate of Christian Brothers University with a major in psychology.