Yearly Archives: 2010

­

Amy Kalina

Site: The San Miguel School – Providence, RI

College: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

What do you do?

At San Miguel, I assist in the development office with PR, communications, and publications. I also coordinate the after-school programs, help with special events and outreach, and co-teach the 5th grade literacy class.

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?

I still remember a conversation I had with one of my professors during my senior year of college. He told me that, whatever I decided to do with my life, he hoped that I chose “something meaningful.” At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but I wanted to find out. That’s what directed me to long-term service. Even after so many years of classroom education, I felt as though I had a lot more to learn—about the world around me and about myself. The Lasallian Volunteer program offered an opportunity to pursue the “bigger picture,” to witness firsthand a way of life I was fortunate enough to be sheltered from as I was growing up, and to discover more about myself, my gifts, and my personal limitations in the process.

Had someone told me a few years ago that, nearly two years out of college, I would be working at an all-boys middle school in Providence, RI, I never would have believed them. Now, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Just as De La Salle’s journey was a pattern of one commitment leading to another, so has my own journey carried me to this little school in Rhode Island, where my life has been transformed and given new direction. Only in looking back over the past two years can I clearly see how ‘providential’ each step of my journey has been, helping me to realize hopes that I never actually knew that I had. It certainly hasn’t been easy; these two years have come with struggles and sacrifices, exhaustion and tears. But I can say, without a doubt, that I’m doing “something meaningful,” and that makes everything else worthwhile.

What is the most important “thing,” do you think, that your students need from you? What do you do to try to provide this?

I really believe that it all comes down to love. At San Miguel, that love is both visible and tangible, creating a learning environment that is truly unique where students are cared for and nurtured in a safe school community. What the students need from us differs from day to day, from child to child. Whether they need kind words of encouragement, a warm hug, a simple smile, or just someone to acknowledge their presence, we can reach out to make them feel like they can be and do more than they ever believed they could—or that their circumstances would have otherwise suggested. Kids just need to be given a chance. They need someone in their corner cheering them on, someone who they trust and they know will never give up on them. And that all comes from unconditional love.

Have you noticed any signs of success in your work? What are they?

I see signs of success in the little miracles I witness every day, not necessarily ones directly attributed to my own personal efforts, but to the collective efforts of the San Miguel community. Academic and behavior grades on a student’s report card may measure his in-school progress, but it is our job to prepare him for a time when we’re no longer there to guide him to do the right thing. When I hear stories about our students when they are out in their communities, times when they aren’t under their teachers’ watchful eyes but yet still exhibiting the traits of a “Miguel Man,” I see that as a tremendous testimony to our work.

Bro. Michael Reis always says that when you succeed at something, you should take time to thank and remember all of those who came before you who paved that road to triumph. Even when I don’t see any evidence that my work is making a difference, I find comfort in thinking that, hopefully, my efforts today are paving the way for someone else’s breakthrough down the road.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?

What sets the LV program apart from other programs is its network of support. Even though we’re small, there is great strength in our connection to the greater Lasallian world. The Brothers are a source of support, encouragement, and wisdom, and the experience of living in community with them has made me a stronger person. Leaving home to become a full-time volunteer can be a scary, intimidating experience, but the LV program helps you every step of the way, providing support and making sure that your service experience is beneficial to the site as well as to you as a volunteer. The Lasallian Volunteers make up their own little family, one that I know I’ll belong to even after I’m done with the program, and that has helped to make my experience all the more powerful.


By |June 1st, 2010|Categories: lv of the month|Comments Off on Amy Kalina

Kathleen Glackin

Site: De La Salle at Blessed Sacrament Elementary – Memphis, TN

College: Loyola University Chicago

What do you do?

I am the librarian for the students in Kindergarten thru 2nd grade and I teach computer and technology. I also help run the after-school program.

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?

I chose to be a Lasallian Volunteer because I realized how important an education is and how blessed I was to receive the one I did. In high school, I had a religion teacher, Ms. Gillespie, who would tell us stories of her year of doing service and how much that impacted her life. I found her experiences interesting and wanted to have something similar in my life. I continued to do service in college, going on Alternative Break Immersions and I learned just how much bigger the world is than Philadelphia (where I grew up) and Chicago (where I went to college). During my senior year, I finally realized how I could volunteer for a year and chose the Lasallian Volunteers. What drew me to the LV program was the emphasis on education and I knew that was where I could make the biggest impact as a volunteer.

My hopes for the year were to make a positive impact on just one student’s life, and to learn how I could live a simple life while working to help those who are not as blessed as I am. Within the program as a whole, I have made wonderful friends for life, and have truly benefited from everything the program has taught me about the Brothers, community life, the poor and myself. My experience has been immeasurable and there is no doubt that I will spend the rest of my life with wonderful memories of the students and the great times we shared.

What is the most important thing, do you think, that your students need from you? How do you provide this?

There is a quote from Leo Buscaglia that goes, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” This quote exemplifies how I try to live every day of my year of service. My “thing” is everything that Leo Buscaglia says because those simple actions truly can turn a life around. I am able to see this best through my work with the after-school program. This year I have been able to create an atmosphere that allows for the students to do their homework and play. I have also been able to work with them one-on-one, allowing me to connect more deeply with them. Some days, my role is to give an encouraging word, to laugh with the students, or to give a hug when they are feeling down.

Which of the core values are the most important to you? Why?

I have always seen faith as the most important core value because it is through faith that you are then you are able to do service for others and live better in community. This year I have learned that I have to work at all three in order to be happy. The Brothers have definitely encouraged my prayer life and have helped me to find God in all things. When praying, I am able to better understand the experiences of my day and see where God was acting in my life.

Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?

I would recommend a contribution to the LV program because it not only helps the program but our students. By being able to have LVs at sites, we are able to make positive impacts on those we work with in many capacities. The skill set each LV learns is irreplaceable, and everyone leaves the program with a better understanding of how much bigger the world is than them.

By |April 1st, 2010|Categories: lv of the month|Comments Off on Kathleen Glackin

Ricky Vides

Site: Tides Family Services – Providence, Rhode Island

College: University of California, Berkeley

What do you do?

I serve court adjudicated youth, clients who have recently been released from the Rhode Island Training School. The Youth Transition Center’s (YTC) main objective is to steadily provide the proper services necessary to transition our clients’ back into the community.

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the Program been realized?

I chose to become a Lasallian Volunteer because I believe in exceeding human potential, especially when you have been born into the challenges faced by poverty and neglect.

What is the most important thing, do you think, that your students need from you? How do you provide this?

Like all human beings our clients carry experiences that no one can ever remove. In every experience there are opportunities, lessons to be learned, and new beginnings to unfold. Our clients carry these past treasures that are waiting to be converted into strengths and success stories. As a caseworker I can only be the bridge that leads them
to self-empowerment. I ask them to question their actions, surroundings, and the forces of poverty – the forces that they often do not notice controlling them. I show them the light switch, but only they can turn it on. Keeping it on of course requires help, so my next task requires coaching them to overcome the fear of asking for help.

No one makes it through life alone.

What have you discovered about poverty from your work?

I have discovered that poverty is directly related to the hopelessness that surrounds the inconsistancies of a home.

Which of the core values are the most important to you? Why?

Faith is the foundation for everything that my life is based on. I feel like my faith brings me a purpose and happiness; without my faith, I would be lost. It keeps me rooted in Christ and points me in the right direction.

What is the most challenging obstacle that your students/clients/guests face? How do your school/agency and your own outreach try to empower them to overcome this obstacle?

Like most human beings, our clients have made mistakes, mistakes that can be corrected if accompanied by the trust and guidance that we can provide. While many who read the words “trust” and “guidance” can immediately relate to a teacher who taught them how to confront the fears of literacy or promptly remember parents who were always there, most of our clients are raised without these experiences. Far too many “role models” have let them down. Too many teachers looked the other way and gave up. Our clients are no different than you and I. Our agency reaches out to them with strength based approaches. We target what works within the family and build on it.

What has been your biggest disappointment in your volunteer service? How has this affected you?

My biggest disappointment as a volunteer is that I cannot build a level of trust and guidance with every single client I work with. There are still clients who refuse to ask for help, especially when help is so near. Instead of getting frustrated, I just keep on keeping on. If you keep digging out of life’s garden, your harvest will grow.

Have you noticed any signs of success in your work? What are they?

Success at Tides Family Services comes in a unique fashion. Of course witnessing my clients transition into higher education after finishing a journey through the court system is inspiring. However, sometimes success can be as simply as a handshake that ends a long conversation, a reassurance that my clients actually listened and believed the message I just relayed.

How has your involvement with the Brothers affected you?

I have been involved with the Brothers since I entered Cathedral High School in the 9th grade. The Brothers have harnested life’s journey in some its most crucial episodes. As a Lasallian Volunteer , I feel as though their mission is manifesting right before my eyes.

Which of the core values (Faith, Community, Service) are most important to you? Why?

Community is the most important value because home is where the heart it is. Our community has become my home. It is a home that breeds the wisdom, spirituality, and compassion necessary to serve as a volunteer.

Do you see yourself as different now from your friends from college as a result of the LV experience? How so?

A lot of my friends were service driven. I appreciate all of the knowledge and wisdom we shared as students and providers for our communities. My LV experience has ignited conversations that are themed with appreciation, respect and love.

If you could project ahead a few years and look back to now, how do you think your experiences with those you serve and with the Brothers will have changed you?

I would imagine that my experience as a volunteer will continue to shine the understanding that will keep me in touch with the realities of the world. I am certain I will be thankful for the blessings of a Lasallian education, and all the guidance the Brothers provided throughout the years.

By |March 1st, 2010|Categories: lv of the month|Comments Off on Ricky Vides

Dori Smith

Site: De Marillac Academy – San Francisco, CA

College: Lewis University

What do you do?

I am a Middle School Science Teacher

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? Have your hopes about the program been realized?

We can learn the most from those who endure a great amount of suffering and the LV program is an opportunity for me to get to know these people, learn from them, and also be of service to them. I want my students to use education as a tool to obtain a brighter future. I have received more insight and fulfillment from this experience than I ever could have imagined. The faculty at De Marillac Academy, the Brothers, and especially my students are the greatest teachers I’ve ever had!

What is the most important thing, do you think, that your students need from you? How do you provide this?

The most important thing my students need from me is support in understanding and developing their unique gifts. They need to know how to overcome challenges, understand their self worth, and recognize their exceptional abilities. These students have so much to offer this world and they need to realize all that they are capable of achieving. I try to provide this by forming relationships with my students and implementing content that is meaningful and applicable; then they are given the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of ways. They participate in activities and assessments that appeal to several different modes of learning. When students become confident and independent, they are able to be positive and influential members of society.

How has your involvement with the Brothers affected you?

My involvement with the Brothers has been such an incredible experience. I am constantly surrounded with the most genuine support system. The Brothers are some of the most selfless people I have ever met and they are always there for me to listen or to make me laugh after the end of a long day. I find comfort and spiritual nourishment during morning and evening prayer with the community. I am so thankful for this experience and I feel blessed to know such sincere, dedicated, and remarkable individuals.

Which of the core values are the most important to you? Why?

Faith is the foundation for everything that my life is based on. I feel like my faith brings me a purpose and happiness; without my faith, I would be lost. It keeps me rooted in Christ and points me in the right direction.

If you could project ahead a few years and look back to now, how do you think your experiences with those you serve will have changed you?

I have learned that Jesus truly lives within all of us. That’s an easy thing to say, but it’s important to recognize that the word “all” means drug addicts, prostitutes, felons, cheaters, disabled, abusers, impoverished, liars, and murderers. When I walk to work everyday, I am reminded that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. This experience has taught me that amongst all the suffering, Christ is right in the middle of it. I have learned to open my heart and mind to clearly see God’s presence at work in my students and the community in which they live. I know that when I encounter hardships in the future I will look back on this experience and trust that God will walk me through it.

Why would you recommend a contribution to Lasallian Volunteers from a prospective donor?

I highly recommend for people to contribute to the LV program because education is an irreplaceable gift that benefits all of society. Contributions to the LV program mean that individuals will be given resources for a chance at a better life, which they wouldn’t otherwise have. The LV program implements strategies that create a lasting impact well into the future… and who doesn’t want that?!

By |February 1st, 2010|Categories: lv of the month|Comments Off on Dori Smith

Thais Hunter

Site: La Salle Academy – Philadelphia, PA

College: Christian Brothers University

What do you do?

Art teacher, breakfast and lunch helper, and after school and homework moderator.

What have you discovered about poverty from your work?

What I have discovered about poverty is that you cannot slap a label on it. I think so often society attempts to label everything or everyone: socio-economic backgrounds, race, etc. Sometimes what we have yet to see is that everyone has a different story. I hate to admit that I used to be one of those people, and that I had to witness and experience poverty myself in order to believe it. It is so easy to point the finger and say, “He or She should have been smarter. Made better choices.” But what I have learned is to look at the whole picture. Did he or she try to make better choices but because of the choices of someone else, were their chances ruined?

I can think of a certain mother who has three sons and right before the holidays the father decided that he wanted a new life, and decided to leave her and his three sons behind. Now should I blame her for continuing the cycle of poverty that may occur now that she has to care for three children by herself although she’s made the best choices she can in her circumstances? Or the father who is putting his children’s welfare aside for his own selfishness? Everyone has a different story.

After my almost two-years at LaSalle Academy, I do not like the word poor. I have taught myself to not use it. One day a student said to me, “Miss Thais, I’m poor. That’s why I’m here.” I did not know how to respond. I thought to myself, “Have I in any way treated this student differently because they are from a different socio-economic status?” I used to joke I that I was poor because I lived on a “small” monthly stipend, but after the stories I have heard and after witnessing those moments of what being “poor” really means, I feel ashamed. How dare I even think of myself as being poor? Though I may not have all the wants of the world, my needs are met.

What has been your biggest disappointment in your volunteer service? How has this affected you?

My biggest disappointment is being asked why I chose to do this the past two years when I could be “livin’ the life” elsewhere and have more money in my bank account. I am baffled as to why making money would be more important than giving back so that others may have the same chance at a great education. It is one thing to hear that people are shallow and close-minded, and another thing to experience it.

“You teach in the hood?” is what I cannot stand to hear the most. Whenever I hear someone label my students as ghetto just makes me so upset! Why are they ghetto? Because they come from an impoverished area or because of their ethnicity? I do not think that people realize how ignorant they sound when saying such a thing.

How has your involvement with the Brothers affected you?

Being around the Brothers has been great! The Brothers are like a bunch of grandpas who tell great stories and always tell me that “I’m too much.” It is nice having a bunch of guys who are here to see me succeed and do well in life. Whenever I have any questions about life or what to do after volunteering, I am never met with “Can you talk to someone else?”

My best memories with and of the Brothers are from social gatherings. If anyone reading this decides to join the volunteer program, NEVER miss a gathering with the Brothers! It is great sitting back and laughing with them. It could be at home or at a bar (believe it or not!). A social gathering hosted by the Brothers is truly one of the best experiences you will have as a volunteer. Take it from me, I was not a believer, but now I am.

What would you say to one of your students, mothers, clients or guests who came to you discouraged about a particularly troubling problem?

God does not give us more than we can handle.

What might you say to your principal or supervisor who appeared negative about the recent behavior of the person just above who had recently confided in you?

Sometimes it is easier to accuse, but it is harder to understand.

What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?

Why not? They are way better than roommates in college.

Why would you recommend Lasallian Volunteers to a college senior considering volunteerism?

Giving it all up is not easy…and neither is goodbye. But it is all necessary in order to grow and become the person you were meant to be.

Why would you recommend a contribution to Lasallian Volunteers from a prospective donor?

Plant the seed so that it may grow.

By |January 1st, 2010|Categories: lv of the month|Comments Off on Thais Hunter