Our February Ministry of the Month highlights LaSalle School in Albany, New York. Kajah Griffin is a second-year LV and a 2019 graduate of Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois and Calvin Gill is a first-year LV and a 2020 graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee.
What is LaSalle School?
Founded in 1854 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers to serve abandoned and orphaned boys, LaSalle School is a multi-faceted human services agency. A talented and dedicated staff of more than 200 work with a daily enrollment of 230 adolescent boys and their families in Residential Treatment, Day Education, Specialized Treatment Program, After-School Center and related programming. In addition, outpatient appointments are now being accepted at the Counseling Center at LaSalle. Located in the Pine Hill’s neighborhood of Albany, LaSalle’s main campus co-exists with residences, businesses, public schools, colleges and universities. Over the past decade, the agency’s facilities have benefited from an extensive program of renovation and new construction, providing an excellent environment for learning, living and working. Today, the work of LaSalle extends well beyond the residential campus. Nearly two-thirds of the youth in care live in their own communities and homes. An emphasis on the development of enhanced education, aftercare and preventive services has proven to be a natural complement to the strong program of residential care LaSalle proudly traces to its origins 160 years ago.
How did Kajah and Calvin learn about Lasallian Volunteers?
For both, the invitation to learn more about the program intrigued them to want to explore, discern and, ultimately, decide to apply and serve as LVs. Kajah learned about Lasallian Volunteers from LV alum Shanae Farrell while Shanae was an LV Scholar at Lewis University. Calvin learned about Lasallian Volunteers from his professor.
What services do Calvin and Kajah provide at their ministry?
Calvin has two roles at LaSalle School: one as a teacher’s assistant and the other as a recreation coordinator. “In my role as a teacher’s assistant, I provide stability in the classroom alongside the teachers by helping the students with activities, classwork and behavior management. I also assist the young men with their jobs around the school, which include recycling, sanitation and office positions they hold for the student body. In my role as the recreation coordinator, I help plan and facilitate recreational activities for the residential students on campus. These activities include basketball, football, dodgeball, kickball and other physical activities. I have also taken them to the bowling alley, batting cages, golfing and to bible studies on Wednesdays.”
Kajah also has two roles at LaSalle School: one as a teacher’s assistant and the other in campus ministry. “I serve as a teacher’s assistant for an English class. I join Mr. LaFave (campus minister) taking the youth to LifeChurch and other activities involved with campus ministry.”
Which of the Lasallian Volunteers’ core values (faith, service and community) is most important to Kajah and Calvin? Why?
Kajah and Calvin share similar sentiments that the most important core value to them is faith. “Faith is where my strength comes from. It also helps me to stand firm and be bold. Faith allows me to be filled with unexplainable joy,” shares Kajah. Calvin shares, “It is through faith that I have taken this journey to become a part of the LaSalle School family. It is also through faith that I have been able to grow and be a better support member in my community. Faith has shown me that when combined with work or in my case, service, I will continue to grow as a person who will be instrumental in helping others.”
What is the most important thing Calvin and Kajah’s students need from them?
Calvin has learned that the most important thing his students need from him is patience. “While working with the young men here at LaSalle School, I have noticed that the more patient I am with them, the better they respond to me. My patience shows them that I care for their success and well-being.”
Kajah realizes that support and love are the most important things her students need from her. “They need to know someone cares for them.”
What would Kajah and Calvin say to a college senior who was discerning a volunteer year?
Kajah shares, “If a college senior approached me and told me they were considering Lasallian Volunteers, I would tell them go for it. It’s a great experience. You learn to budget, be independent, take on responsibility, and even help figure out what you want to do for a career. The program can help you discover a world you never thought you’d enter. I would let them know that the only downside is being homesick.”
Calvin shares similar sentiments. “I would tell them to prepare themselves for a life-revealing journey. While on this journey, I will express to them that they will learn how to be a role model for others while also having others be role models for you. You will give and receive in this program.”