I first heard about Lasallian Volunteers through the Mission and Ministry Center (MMC) at Saint Mary’s College of California, where I went for undergrad. But before we get into why I decided to join the program, there is a little bit of backstory…
For as long as I can remember, I have known that I wanted to work with and help kids. As a first-year student in college, I sought out activities off campus that allowed me to work with kids. One of those opportunities was called Oakland Youth Aspire (OYA). OYA was a program that took place every Saturday at a community center in Oakland. Kids would get dropped off, and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. we would play with them, help them with their schoolwork, prepare a meal with them and share our meal. When the kids would get picked up at the end of the day, we would prepare bags filled with groceries to help their families. This time with the kids filled me with so much love and life, gave me purpose and direction, and helped me live intentionally.
As a second-year student, I joined the Lasallian (Living Learning) Community, which had a focus of faith, service and community. As part of my service, I worked at Monument Crisis Center (MCC). MCC is a center that does a variety of things for its surrounding community in Concord, California, but I participated in its after-school/after-care program. I helped kids with their homework and reading, and when they finished their work, we played games and colored.
These opportunities and experiences and others allowed me to discover my passion for working with kids. The adults in the MMC at Saint Mary’s noticed the fire within me early on, and as a first-year, I was told I’d be a great Lasallian Volunteer. Tada! Here I am!
In my current work at Ocean Tides, I work with students in a variety of ways. I help them academically, spend time with them in the gym, help them learn how to cook, or simply walk with them if they are having a rough day. My official title is Social Services Case Manager, but everyday my role is different based on the needs of the students. For example, there have been a few students during my time here who have Spanish-speaking families. I get more involved in these cases because I can translate for the family and help them communicate with the Ocean Tides staff. If a family member needs clarity or has a specific concern that they want to bring to the social worker’s attention, I make sure to convey the message as accurately as possible so the social services staff member can help the student. I am here to help, and it feels rewarding knowing I have helped a family, answered their questions and made them feel comfortable.
Brianna Ruezga is a first-year LV serving at Ocean Tides in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Brianna is 2020 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California with a degree in psychology.