Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Matt Billings: My Call to Lasallian Life

I believe that it is safe to assume that as a Lasallian Volunteer we have been called to live a year or two of faith, service and community. Every LV is exposed to a service experience at one point in their life, whether that occurs in their younger years, high school or college.   The call to service affects each and every one of us differently. Some LVs knew from the moment they found out about this program that they wanted to join; where as for others it took a time of discernment. Either way we all ended up here for a reason. My journey, however, was a rocky one.

Matt Billings, 15-16, La Salle Academy, New York, NY

Matt Billings, 15-16, La Salle Academy, New York, NY

I was born and raised in a small Southern town. I went to a public school where I knew almost every face that would walk through the doors. My only sense of community came from the experience of living in a place where you knew almost everyone by name. My exposure to service stemmed from my active participation in the Boy Scouts of America. We would work together as a community through various volunteer opportunities. During this time in my life I began to appreciate the work I was doing. I loved reaching out and helping others, and in doing so it brought a sense of pride and fulfillment to my life. However, being an over weight redheaded Boy Scout in my school was not beneficial to my social life. I was bullied for being in the scouts and for my appearance. So I did the only thing a child would do; I pulled away from it all. I became bitter and hateful and would start fights with my parents for no reason. I felt as if I was alone and scared in the world. I did not know how to cope with these feelings so I hid them from everyone.

After dealing with these feelings and personal battles for a long time I came to the realization that I needed to make an effort to help others. I did not want them to feel the way I did when I was bullied. I became overly social and helpful; I started to go out of my way to help people that I barely knew because I felt as if I was making a difference. I thought that I could help change the world, and to do that I had to start with one small act then work my way up. After a while I felt as if I was not making a difference, this became very stressful and overwhelming. I needed a new way to cope with this. I found that running did the trick. The more I ran the better I felt, which led me to join my high school cross country team. My running career exploded from there. I was running every day in high school and continually saw improvements. Running became my life and I slowly faded away from all the service that I was doing.

Matt with family and friends.

Matt with family and friends.

At the start of college I thought I could escape old feelings and previous challenges, but everyday I felt like I was living a lie. I felt vulnerable. So I did the one thing I knew that would help: I ran. I became a walk-on runner for my school (Christian Brothers University) and I felt as if my life was coming back together again. I felt less vulnerable everyday and I felt accepted at school. I was a college athlete, I had a girlfriend, I was in a fraternity, and I had a job. It seemed like I was on top of the world, but on the inside I knew I was missing something. Years previous I had a friend join the LV program and he would call me and tell me all about it. This is what really sparked my interest, but because of everything else in my life I placed it in the back of my mind. Towards the end of my senior year I became a TA at CBU. I loved helping the students succeed and sharing my knowledge with them. I decided at that point that I wanted to continue working with students, but I didn’t know how or where to start. At the same time I was doing this, a good friend of mine was applying for Lasallian Volunteers. After she was accepted I knew that I was also being called to serve with this program. The aspects of faith, service and community all appealed to me, I had to embody these principles.

The Lasallian principles set by St. John Baptist de La Salle can be a challenge to live by on a day-to-day basis. With this said, though, it is something that none of us have to live alone. The beautiful thing about being a Lasallian is that there are other people who believe in the same principles. It is a bonding experience that is felt through the soul.

How are you going to change the world? How will you find this experience?

Matt Billings is a first year LV serving at La Salle Academy in New York, NY.  He is a graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee.

By |October 28th, 2015|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Matt Billings: My Call to Lasallian Life

October 2015: Ellie Cash

Cash, Ellie

Ellie Cash, 15-16

Ministry: San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona

College: Saint Louis University

What do you do?

My official title is “Student Support Coordinator” and I serve in both the academic setting and in Campus Ministry. Since the start of the school year, I’ve helped to develop the school-wide study hall, arranging students so that they can best complete work, receive tutoring, and provide a setting for studying. I also help with Lasallian Youth, organizing sites for students to serve both the on- and off-campus community. Lastly, I assist with San Miguel’s “El Otro Lado” U.S./Mexico Border Immersion Trips, which helps our students and those from visiting Lasallian schools understand the different perspectives of immigration. These different aspects of my position have been the perfect fit for me, and I’m blessed to be able to say that I love coming to work every day!

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer?

When I was choosing a post-grad volunteer program, the most important part of the program for me was the mission. The Lasallian Volunteer program’s pursuit of living its mission is overwhelmingly apparent in the work each of us does. I chose this program specifically because of its emphasis on the power of education, as well as my individual role at a Cristo Rey Network school. I would say that my hopes have definitely fulfilled, as I feel constantly supported, always have someone to turn to with questions, and my work with our students has been so rewarding.

Have you noticed any signs of success in your work?

Ellie & The Tortilla Man

Ellie with a tortilla maker in Nogales, Mexico

When I was a Resident Advisor at one of the residence halls in college, my supervisors would say that we know we’ve done a good job when one of our residents wants to become an RA, too. As much as I didn’t completely agree with this philosophy, this same concept has come up in my role as an LV here at San Miguel. One student was questioning the different parts of LV life – living with the Brothers, what it means to be in community, who’s the best cook, etc. – and at the end of her questioning, she said she wanted to be an LV. Knowing that this student was impacted by my role means so much to me, but even more than that, it helps me know that she’s seriously thinking about her future and how she wants to help serve her community and the education world as a whole.

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?

Even after being here for just two months, I know that the challenges I’ve had in all aspects of LV life – faith, community, and service – have helped shape how I conduct myself and have changed my perspective on life completely. The Brothers lead lives of humility, and while their schedule is demanding, they make it work so that it benefits each community member for what he/she needs most. Day after day, this ability to help everyone just amazes me, and I know I’ll be thinking about it when it comes to interacting with coworkers in the professional sense and with friends outside of work, too. San Miguel students work so hard and against a system that is set up for them to fail, and they succeed. Knowing just a small amount of what they have to go through regularly to complete their work and come back every day is incredible, and I hope that one day they realize how much they’ve inspired everyone – me and all of the other faculty and staff members here. I know it may sounds cliche, but wow, I can’t wait to hear about their successes in the future. 

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

I would say that the Brothers are simply a gift. I chose to be an LV because of the intentional combination of our three core values – faith, community, and service – and how LV very actively lives those out. The Brothers are so wise and will give you critical and well-thought-out advice about your daily ministry, but still love joking around the dinner table. It’s exactly the balance you want as a recent college grad entering the professional world.

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

Leading student group on a migrant train in the Senoran Desert

Leading student group on a migrant train in the Senoran Desert

Actually, I’ve talked about this with current LVs many times – that this program is perfect for post-grad. LV sets you up with a series of mentors, both professional and personal, not to mention the mentorship that comes automatically from living with the Brothers. Then there’s the fact that you have a few dozen second-year LVs who are basically waiting for your phone call from across the country when you have a bad day, or when you have an amazing moment with students/clients. There’s also the program staff who regularly check in about all things regarding your experience, as well as visit your community twice a year, personally making sure all is going well. For a first job, this is it. This is what you want. I promise.

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

When you make a donation to the LV Program, you know that it is going to something very intentional and purposeful. LV doesn’t just choose any college grad who wants some direction in life, but someone who will proudly represent its charism and proactively pursue it in everyday living. Know that not only does a donation to the Lasallian Volunteers go toward communities in need, but people who whole heartedly care and are doing everything they can to help students who need it most.

How would you like to continue your involvement with the Lasallian family after your time with Lasallian Volunteers?

On the Mexico-US Border

On the Mexico-US Border

I would really love to be a mentor for Lasallian Volunteers or serve as a retreat coordinator for Lasallian high schools and colleges. Every day brings a new challenge as an LV, and I’d love to be a go-to person, especially for first-year volunteers. In addition, the time I spend with our students is always my most cherished, so to continue working with them as they grow into smart and talented young adults would be an honor.

By |October 27th, 2015|Categories: lv of the month, news + events, Uncategorized|Comments Off on October 2015: Ellie Cash

2015-2016

2015-2016

Front Row:
Gabbi Carroll, Ellie Cash, Bridget Kennedy, Ivette Quinteros, Liz DiPlacido, Andrea Guyton, Yolanda Franco, Monique Cruz, Alejandra Espitia

Second Row:
Kara McDonald, Merry Farrier, Heather Marsh, Colleen Newell, Matt Jaeckle, Abby Michels, Ruth Ficaro, Sheila Garcia, Kacie Kusinski, Jacquie Martin

Third Row:
Antwa’nae Briars, Anthony Carbone, Maddie Hodapp, Jocelyn Thompson, David Anderson, Becca Hulick, Lindsey Pamlanye, Amanda Massinople, Jotti Aulakh, Bianca Perry

Fourth Row:
Dan O’Connell, Tom Darnowski, Mari Irby, Julia Turner, Julia Kueter, Sheena Mullan, Giovanni Palacio, Kelly Neary, Samantha Hyland, Martin Chavez

Back Row:
Jon Ficaro, TJ Diarra, Jeff Lucia, Matt Billings, Henry Yeagle, Matt Loudon, John Schatz, Dan Bowers, John Tudisco

By |October 27th, 2015|Categories: yearbook|Comments Off on 2015-2016

2014-2015

2014-2015

Front Row
Yolanda Franco, Bridget Kennedy, Liz DiPlacido, Steph Daley, Clare O’Connell, Alejandra Espitia, Monique Cruz, Katherine Mockler, Catherine Buck, Leslie Anne Salvador

Second Row
Megan McShane, Sheila Garcia, Bryana Polk, Katie Christensen, Viri Morales, Andrea Guyton, Carlos Orbe, Julia Kueter, Matt Halick, Zach Farley, Katy Noetzel

Third Row:
Katie Worsdale, Emma Flowers, Antwa’nae Briars, Jotti Aulakh, Dave Anderson, Ron Jovi Ramirez, Maddie Hodapp, Alie Manzella, Anthony Carbone, Jeff Petroski, Gabi Michel

Back Row(s): Steven Patzke, Molly Allen, Kyle Garesche, Chelsea Stevenson, Kyle Garesche, Dana Cook, Jocelyn Thompson, Dan Bowers, Giovanni Palacio, Lorenzo Mendez, Dan O’Connell, Tom Darnowski

By |October 27th, 2015|Categories: yearbook|Comments Off on 2014-2015

2013-2014

2013-2014

Front Row
Jackie Liberty, Bryana Polk, Clare O’Connell, Emily Mattoon, Julia Walsh, Whitney Wozniak, Megan Davison, Megan McShane, Gloria Jimenez, Evan Saunders, Katie Christensen

Second Row
Pat Blythe, Kayla Bryson-Tucker, Shanae Farrell, Zach Farley, Jackie Markowski, Katie Worsdale, Chelsea Stevenson, Tom Iven, Emma Flowers, Katy Noetzel, Kelly Schreiber

Third Row
Liana Vantrease, Kenenna Amuzie, Shannon Guscetti, Ron Jovi Ramirez, Ron Pollak, Catie McNamara, Kathleen O’Malley, Kat Merry, Katie Delaney

Fourth Row: Dana Cook, Trey Bradley, Jake Haagenson, Lorezno Mendez, Doug Herbek, Kyle Garesche, Simon Leibovic, Steve Schmidt

Back Row: Mariela Castillo, Jen Coe, Molly Allen, Tony Rivera, Jeff Petroski, Sean Ruane, Anna Holt, Mike Wall

By |October 20th, 2015|Categories: yearbook|Comments Off on 2013-2014