Catherine Calogero

Service Site: John XXIII Educational Center, Racine, WI

College: Manhattan College

What do you do?
John XXIII Educational Center began 3 years ago as an after school site for supervised study hall, mentoring, and tutoring after the close of San Juan Diego Middle School. I am responsible for overseeing study hall sessions, assisting students with homework, projects, and school assignments, maintaining the library, and planning and organizing weekly social activities for the students. During the daytime hours, John XXIII Educational Center offers Out-Reach Programs at various middle school sites. Our staff facilitates 5-6 week mini courses on topics related to anger management, gossip and bullying, self-esteem, and health related issues. I am currently responsible for facilitating four different Out-Reach Programs at various school sites.

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer?  Have your hopes about the Program been realized?
While I was in college, I often heard about the Lasallian Volunteers program and as I approached graduation, joining the program seemed more and more like where my path was leading me. I was fortunate to have many service experiences throughout college and felt like I wanted to spend some time giving back and immersing myself in the world of service to others. The LV program has far exceeded my hopes and expectations and I couldn’t be more satisfied and grateful for my decision to join this program and pursue Lasallian service.

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 think the most important thing my students need from me is consistency. So often, the students we work with come from environments where things are never settled. Their lives and situations are very frequently in transition and the students have to learn to adapt to the changes that are happening all around them. This generally leads the student’s school and academic life to be the most stable and consistent thing they experience on a daily basis.

I try my best to provide an environment for these students that is comfortable, calm, and welcoming. While things are not perfect and there are unexpected changes that come up, knowing that I can provide these students with a consistent environment that is always available to them for whatever they need helps me feel that we are providing our students with one of the most necessary tools for their success.

What have you discovered about poverty from your work?
I have found that it is very easy, especially when working with those who are struggling with poverty, to fall into the trap of feeling like you always need to do something FOR that person, when in reality, the focus should be on doing something WITH that person. Sometimes someone who is struggling only needs a person to walk with them and empower them to take initiative and ownership over their situation to set them on the right path. The real beauty of being in service to those living in poverty is being a part of creating an environment that enables them to do something on their own

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?
My time as an LV has undoubtedly been the most formative experience of my life. The people I interact with on a daily basis, including the Brothers, have taught me so much about the challenges of living in poverty, the world of education, and how I can apply what I have learned here to other things in my future.

This experience has caused change within myself and has lead me to pursue education as a career after the program, something that I was adamantly against when I began my time as a volunteer. My work in Racine, and more importantly the students and Brothers, has inspired me to continue working to break the cycle of poverty through education after my LV experience comes to an end.

What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?
Living with the Brothers is a wonderful experience and something that I have really enjoyed during my time as an LV. The Brothers have lots of experience to share and are a great support for the volunteers. The opportunity to live with Brothers as an LV is something that is both very unique and beneficial to this program.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?
The LV program allows you to develop personally and professionally in a environment with great support. It is the perfect way to transition from an academic environment to a professional environment, while being able to give back and serve those in need.

Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?
A donation to the LV program is a donation that extends far beyond the work of the Lasallian Volunteers. By donating to the LV program, you are investing in a worldwide network of people and places that believe in a quality education for everyone. Your donation not only helps with continuing the LV program, but also ensures that many Lasallian ministries will have the staff and resources they need to keep their doors open. Without Lasallian Volunteers, many schools and agencies would be unable to provide services for their students and clients. As a donor to the LV program, you are committing to changing lives by offering unique experiences to those who benefit from your generosity, volunteers and students alike.