Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Catie McNamara: When One Door Closes Another One Opens

Catie McNamara, 13-14, Tides Family Service, West Warwick, RI

Catie McNamara, 13-14, Tides Family Service, West Warwick, RI

If you would have asked me last year what I planned to do after graduation, I would have responded with going to Africa or finding a job in a Church as a Youth Minister. I did not think about becoming a Lasallian Volunteer until recruiters came to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and talked about the program. As I completed my application, the more excited I became. Before I knew it reality struck, and I was offered a position to be a Lasallian Volunteer.

If I had to describe my experience in one word it would be: electrifying, in every way. When I was told I was going to be placed in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, working for Tides Family Services I did not know what to think. Thoughts running through my head were: “Smallest state, what is there to do? Tides Family Services, what’s that? Living with four other LVs and a Christian Brother… I don’t know about that”. After my site visit I could feel that I was being called to the Program. I fell in love with Tides immediately and wanted to start immediately.

Tides Family Services is a wonderful organization that serves high-risk youth in Rhodes Island, founded by Brother Michael Reis, in 1983. Those we serve face many challenges and issues. As a Lasallian Volunteer, my job is to track and visit those from Tides. I am part of a three-person team, between the three of us we track 15-33 youth at any time. When I first heard about those we serve and my role in the agency I wasn’t so sure if I was the right person for the job. However, the more time I spend with those I serve and learn more about the mission of Tides Family Services the more I fall in love with my role as a Case Manager. Everyday I spend time building relationships with both the parents and clients. Tides is an impactful agency that has statistically made a difference in the lives of those we serve.

I may not be every client’s favorite Case Manager, I may not be able to prevent all my clients from being placed, or put into training schools. One thing I do know as a wise person one told me, “It’s the little things in life that count, it’s the little things in life that people remember.” I may not make a difference everyday, but if one little thing that I do can put a smile on my clients face I know that I’m on the right path to making a difference in their lives. That smile means something. As Thich Naht Hanh once said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Being an LV and serving at Tides is a joy. It truly is electrifying in many different ways. As I made my decision to become an LV I thought one door was closing. However, I did not realize an even bigger one filled with an immense amount of opportunities was about to open.

Catie McNamara is a current first year LV serving in West Warwick, Rhode Island at Tides Family Services and a 2012 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

By |November 26th, 2013|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Catie McNamara: When One Door Closes Another One Opens

Emily Mattoon: How Do You Like Them Apples!

Emily Mattoon, 13-14, La Salle High School, Yakima, WA

Emily Mattoon, 13-14, La Salle High School, Yakima, WA

This week, our school is participating in our annual pick-a-thon. Each day, one class of students goes out into a local orchard and picks apples and pears instead of going to class. All of the fruit they pick is donated to a local organization called Northwest Harvest who then distributes the fruit to food banks throughout the state of Washington. The event serves as both a fundraiser for our school (the students are asked to get people to sponsor them just as you would for a walk-a-thon) and also an opportunity for our students to give back to the community.

For those of you who may not know, apples are a kind of a big deal in Yakima. Think of how New York Yankees fans feel about Derek Jeter. That’s pretty much how Yakima feels about its apples. Many of the families in our school own orchards or are in some way involved in the agricultural industry. It has become common place to come home from school to find a bushel of apples just chilling on the counter that have been bequeathed to us by generous friends of the Brothers.

I chose to share this with all of you not only because I am kind of inexplicably proud of our apples, even though obviously, I actually have nothing to do with how great they are nor because the agriculturally based economy of central Washington is an often over-looked topic in even the most rigorous Lasallian schools, but because this event has really captured the essence of my experience as an Lasallian Volunteer thus far.

If you had asked me what I thought I would be doing as an LV even a few months ago, I can pretty much guarantee that working in the fields with 50 sophomores would have been at about number 87 on the list. I mean it definitely would have been above chasing a tortoise down the hall to keep it from accidentally blowing up the science center with the propane tank that had gotten stuck to it’s shell by the hose (which definitely happened last week), but well below teaching students about nutrition (something actually listed in my position description!).

Growing up in the suburbs of San Diego and going to school in Durham, North Carolina, I can safely say that until this week, I had very little harvesting experience. So, I started the day just as clueless as all of my students. I spent a solid 5 minutes trying to figure out how to untangle the straps of my fruit bag to get it on all the while getting asked an endless stream of questions that I didn’t know the answer to: “Ms. Mattoon, how do I get this on?” “Ms. Mattoon, how do I set up the ladder?” “Ms. O’Malley (names are hard for them), where does this go?” “Why is this apple shaped like a butt?” “What’s for lunch?” Or my personal favorite, “Why don’t you know how to do this? Aren’t you the teacher?”

I can assure you that this was not the first time I had been asked this question while teaching at La Salle. I have found that when you are a student, the expectation automatically becomes that your teacher knows absolutely everything about absolutely everything. I think some of them truly believe that simply by standing in front of a class and writing your name at the top of the whiteboard you are imbued with some sort of mystical omnipotence. And you know if I am being perfectly honest, there may have been times while I was a student when I had similar thoughts. However, now that the roles have been reversed, I can say with absolute certainty that this was one of the ever so rare times in my life that I have been wrong.

There have been countless times this year when I have had absolutely no idea what I was doing in my work at La Salle and just had to figure it out as I went along. Fortunately, I have been blessed with incredibly understanding students who have been patient with me even when we got locked out the weight room during PE class or made multiple wrong turns on the way to after school service. All of this has shown me that how much I have to offer as an LV is in no way determined by what I already know, but rather by what I am willing to learn.

At the end our apple picking adventure, it wasn’t the vague guesses that I made to answer my students’ questions that had the potential to impact their lives. It was the fact that I was standing in the mud next to them, wrestling with my apple bag, pulling sticks out of my hair, and strategizing with them the best way to reach the last apple on that ridiculously awkwardly positioned branch. It wasn’t my extensive knowledge on the genetic and environmental causes of variations in apple color (unfortunately, yes, I do have extensive knowledge on that topic), but rather my willingness to learn right along side them, to have cold hands, a sore neck, and muddy shoes so that they wouldn’t have to harvest alone.

At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus sends his followers out to “go out and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Unless it was somehow lost in translation, this great send off into a life of service didn’t exactly come with a detailed instruction manual, but my experiences this year have made me realize that this was probably on purpose. I think Jesus wanted us to figure it out along the way, he wanted us to make mistakes and have to start over and to struggle and fail and through this learn how best to love and serve. He knew that learning through experience would cultivate humility and patience, that it would give us an endless supply of funny stories to tell over dinner, that it would give us the courage to go where we were needed most, and that it would ultimately help us to grow into the people we were created to be.

Emily Mattoon is a current first year LV serving at La Salle High School in Yakima, Washington and a 2013 graduate of Duke University.

By |November 18th, 2013|Categories: blog, news + events|3 Comments

Megan Davison: I Never Saw You Coming

Megan Davison, 12-14, Midwest District, Burr Ridge, IL

Megan Davison, 12-14, Midwest District, Burr Ridge, IL

The title of my post, “I Never Saw You Coming,” aptly describes how my second year is going. If you were to ask me in January of 2013 if I was going to be returning for a second year, it would have been a hard “no.”

The novelty had worn off for me. I didn’t know what was next, but I was not sure if my future involved a second year of being a Lasallian Volunteer.

Not one to shy away from challenges, I thought long and hard about what it would mean to stay and what it would mean to go. What would I do next? How would I reconcile my feelings with the reality that I had made the wrong or right decision?

In March, I learned that I was the first to submit my re-application for my second year, despite initially being one of the hard “no’s.” I was locked into the commitment for a second year.

Throughout your service experience, you can’t anticipate what you will learn, the hard or the easy way. You can only control how you react. Your only possession is self-possession.

I never saw you coming, second year. I never saw the joy and the truth that would come with my second year. The challenges that I harken back to, how could I have known they would have paved the way to experience pure joy and truth? How would I have understood the tenets of a treasured life if I didn’t stay?

Give compassion when the last thing you want to be is compassionate. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Be encouraging and supportive when you feel like you can’t give any more of yourself.

You can do anything that you will yourself to do, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit and a little bit of Providence, you will see it through. And if you feel like you can’t pick yourself up, you have 52 other people who are willing to pick you up.

Second year, I never saw you coming, but gosh I am glad you are here.

Megan Davison, 12-14, Midwest District, Burr Ridge, IL

By |November 11th, 2013|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Megan Davison: I Never Saw You Coming

2013 Lasallian Volunteers FSC Awards Recipients Announced

The 2012 FSC Awards and Gifts

The 2012 FSC Awards and Gifts

FSC Awards Honor Outstanding LV Supporters

Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) will honor outstanding supporters with the 2013 Lasallian Volunteers FSC Awards. The awards are named in the spirit of three De La Salle Christian Brothers who embody values of Faith, Service, and Community and made significant contributions to the LVs. They are a small way to show appreciation to individuals who make our service possible.

Recipients are selected on a rotating basis between the Districts in the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN). This year’s recipients are from the District of New Orleans – Santa Fe (NO-SF) and will be presented with the awards during the NO-SF District dinner, which will take place at De La Salle High School in New Orleans, LA, on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. during the Huether Lasallian Conference.

Brother Thomas Ward, FSC, from the Christian Brothers School Community in New Orleans, LA, will receive the Brother John Johnston Faith Award, which recognizes a supporter who has demonstrated great faith in the work of Lasallian Volunteers by sharing time, talent, or treasure. Brother Thomas was a constant support to the LVs in his community while they lived and served in New Orleans. He worked to build a relationship with each volunteer and spent time actively living out the Lasallian values of Faith, Community, and Service, inviting the LVs to journey with him together and by association.

Daniel and Sarah Maher will receive the Brother Chris Bassen Service Award, which recognizes LV alumni who have continued a life of service. The Mahers currently serve at De La Salle North Catholic High School in Portland, OR, where in order to keep the Lasallian mission strong, they helped found a unique community of LVs where lay people reside without the traditional presence of Brothers. Daniel and Sarah are both graduates of Lasallian schools. Daniel graduated from St. Paul’s School in Covington, LA, and later served for two years at La Salle School in Albany, NY. Sarah graduated from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona and went on to serve at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, NY. Daniel is one of the first LVs from NO-SF and the first from St. Paul’s. In the spirit of the award, the Mahers have pursued service of the poor through education with great “empathy, creativity, and determination.”

Brother Nick Gonzalez, FSC, principal of Cathedral High School in El Paso, TX, will be awarded the Brother Michael Farrell Community Award, which honors a Brother or Lasallian Partner in Community who has lived with LVs and who holds the community experience in high esteem for himself and shares it with the LVs. Brother Nick has been living and working with LVs for a number of years beginning while he served at San Miguel High School in Tucson, AZ. He currently accompanies LVs in their work and in their spiritual and community life at Cathedral. In the spirit of this award, Brother Nick “supports and cares for Lasallian Volunteers as individuals while living side by side with them in shared community.”

The awards, which were first presented in 2010, are presented annually.

More on the awards and past recipients >

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |November 6th, 2013|Categories: featured, news + events|Comments Off on 2013 Lasallian Volunteers FSC Awards Recipients Announced

Ron Pollak: Lasallian Family

Ron Pollak, 13-14, Cathedral High School, El Paso, Texas

Ron Pollak, 13-14, Cathedral High School, El Paso, Texas

On Sunday, many of the Lasallian Volunteers gathered in Chicago for The Sweetest LVs Run Ever! We ran the Chicago Hot Chocolate 5K/15K. This race is particularly special to me for three reasons:

  1. Chicago is my hometown.
  2. My birthday is the day before the run. (All Souls Day WOOT WOOT!!)
  3. My parents had no idea I was coming home for the run. (Surprise!)

Whenever gathering with Lasallians, for a 5K/15K run, a Mass, or just a meal, I always feel like I am in the presence of family (and, well duh, God too). This weekend, I am sure many others shared the same feeling. This was one of the main reasons I decided to apply to become a Lasallian Volunteer. I had been blessed to already know how it felt to be welcomed by the Lasallian community. I am now living in the El Paso community and serving at Cathedral High School.

One of my roles as a LV in Campus Ministry at Cathedral High School is to coordinate and develop senior students to lead retreats for the underclassmen. Whenever they are writing a talk for a retreat, I tell them to include some personal examples to give their message more personal meaning to the retreatants. Taking my own advice, here are some personal examples of my experiences of the Lasallian Family:

  • The Lasallian family is welcoming. Brother James Gaffney, President of Lewis University, knew my name as well as every other students name by the end of October my freshman year. How much more at home can you feel when the President of your University knows you by name?
  • The Lasallian family cares about you. The Brothers genuinely want to spend time and get to know the students. They set up card tournaments, go out to lunch with us, and even show up to our events to support what we do.

    Community

    Community

  • The Lasallian family is encouraging. Since becoming an LV, I have been learning how to cook for a “Lasallian family” of five. Though I am much better now, the Brothers in my community were very polite about the first meal I made for them, undercooked chicken. Br. Al made sure to stay near the kitchen the next time I cooked in case I had any questions. They are now always quick to compliment me when I made something edible.
  • The Lasallian family is there for you when you least expect it. In September, I went to a Campus Ministry seminar in Russian River, California. I was nervous because I did not know where I was or anyone else going for that matter. When I walked in, I saw Kenenna and Katie, two other LVs, and I immediately felt like I ran into family in the middle of nowhere! I was much more comfortable the rest of the seminar.

    Lasallians at Campus Ministry Seminar

    Lasallians at Campus Ministry Seminar

  • The Lasallian family is great at hosting. Less than a month ago, I ran the Chicago Marathon. The Chicago LVs live on the course at mile 24. Their community welcomed my parents to stay with them and barbeque while I ran. My parents could not have been happier. My mother said one of the brothers at the community taught her in High School! What a small world!
  • The Lasallian family is inspiring. One of my responsibilities at Cathedral High School is to lead Lasallian Youth, a service group. Whenever I take them to a service site, they always surprise me with their hard work and determination. When we clean at Ronald McDonald House, I constantly find myself looking for something else to clean so that I do not look lazy compared to the boys. It is such a blessing to be able to organize these opportunities for them to inspire me.

    Lasallian Youth serving at the Ronald McDonald House

    Lasallian Youth serving at the Ronald McDonald House

  • The Lasallian family is there in your times of need. On a school night in September, Br. Mariano picked me up because I couldn’t make it all the way back home on a marathon training run at 10:30 at night. That may seem small, but it was huge for me at the time.
  • The Lasallian family loves to see you succeed. Br. Al chaperoned the Sophomore Retreat this year. At dinner that night, he made sure to compliment me on how well it went and asked me how they can make me LV of the month. One can only wish.
  • The Lasallian family is faithful. Lasallian communities begin and end each day in prayer. We pray the liturgy of the hours, which is awesome when you really think about it. Everyone around the world who does this is praying the same prayers with us each day in the morning and the evening. I like this because our days are centered around prayer and association, the foundation of who we are.

I challenge you today to consider how the Lasallian community has become a family in your life. If you have not yet become a part of the Lasallian world, I challenge you to reach out and experience it for yourself.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts, Forever!

 

Ron Pollak, 13-14, Cathedral High School, El Paso, Texas

By |November 5th, 2013|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Ron Pollak: Lasallian Family