Yearly Archives: 2016


Jo-Ann Mullooly: Agile

I want to help students find what will get them out of bed each day. I want every person to find what will make him or her “have good thoughts that shine out of their face like sunbeams,” as Roald Dahl said.  I have fallen in love with the student-centered model of learning.  Getting to know each student or client, hearing from his or her own mouth, and learning what I could do to best support him or her. I want to help every student find what they are passionate about.

Jo-Ann Mullooly, 16-17, La Salle Middle School, St. Louis, MO

Jo-Ann Mullooly, 16-17, La Salle Middle School, St. Louis, MO

I serve at La Salle Middle School, which is not a Lasallian Catholic school like many other ministries in the LV program, but is instead uniquely a faith-inspired charter school. Some of these kids are tough, and make it so challenging to love them because they refuse to let you in. They had to grow up so fast that they have no idea how to be a kid anymore. My first day I asked one particular student what her name was, and I got the response of “Shut up, don’t talk to me.” What a warm welcome. I soon learned her name, and I soon learned that she is like that to everyone, every day. I remember middle school being hard, but some days it’s just as hard as an adult.

I spent my senior year of college knowing I was going to join Lasallian Volunteers. I was ready to change, to learn, to grow. But undoubtedly, it was a huge adjustment for me. I quickly learned in the first five minutes of the school day that these middle school students are not afraid to talk back and do not like to listen or follow directions, especially given by a new person. With the issues and behaviors combined with adjusting to this new place, I forgot what I was really here for. I came to serve the students that don’t get enough attention. I came to listen to the students and learn from them as much as they could learn from me.

jo-ann-1After the first day of school, my emotions changed drastically from excited, nervous, anxious to, “how did I end up here?”  Throughout the first month of school, the students continued to not listen to me, give me attitude, and make days extremely hard. It’s still a learning process.

But I believe all of this is making me stronger. I believe there’s good in everyone. And I believe everyone is worthy of love. I’ve heard that kindness can sometimes be seen as a weakness, but I refuse to give it up. I still say hello to the student that gives me the cold shoulder every single day, even when I know she won’t say it back. I’ll still greet the student I sent out of class yesterday with a smile and a wave. The girls whose fight I broke up now sit with me for lunch. The days that have caused me the most second-hand trauma have also been the most impactful. I look to the Thomas Merton prayer each day:

jo-ann-3“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

When things get rough, and I am most in need of a sign, something small and awesome always happens.  “When is the next time you’re going to visit?” “Where were you yesterday?” “Are you going to read with me tomorrow, Ms. Jo-Ann?”

In a matter of no time, many of the students have opened up to me and we have created amazing relationships. Like them, I have started to rely on our routine and look forward to it every day.  Remaining agile with reality, providing consistency with my actions and attitudes, and never letting my own feelings get in the way of a student’s growth, have made this first half of my year of service all the more worthwhile.

Jo-Ann Mullooly is a first-year LV serving at La Salle Middle School in St. Louis, MO and is a 2016 graduate of Manhattan College.

By |December 15th, 2016|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Jo-Ann Mullooly: Agile

December 2016: San Miguel Chicago

In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the Midwest District is featured. The ministry is San Miguel Chicago and the Lasallian Volunteers are Erik Thomas and Kathryn “Kat” Varone 16-17. Erik graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, and Kat graduated from Manhattan College in 2015 with her Bachelor’s degree in education and in 2016 with her Master’s in Special Education.


San Miguel Chicago serves students who are academically at-risk and whose families are economically disadvantaged. San Miguel relies almost entirely on community support and donations to operate while currently serving 90 middle school students, over 120 graduates, and over 600 family members. The school utilizes small class sizes, a longer school day, reading and language arts focused curriculum, parental/family involvement, experiential learning through field trips and other hands on experiences, and intensive graduate support to help the students at San Miguel gain success both at San Miguel and into the future.


For Erik it was the next step after he went to Saint Mary’s College of California. He felt it was a natural progression during his time there. He says, “I recognized that Lasallian Volunteers would give me the opportunities to both experience life in a totally new and unknown city and to serve the Lasallian mission, which as an alumnus of a Lasallian college, is so dear to my heart.”
Kat had a similar experience as a double Lasallian alumna who has her roots at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island for high school and Manhattan College for her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She says, “I felt that when my nine years as a Lasallian student came to an end, I wanted to give back to the Lasallian mission that had educated me so well. Lasallian Volunimg_6924-jpgteers seemed like a great place for me to be able to give back to the mission.”


Erik serves as a development associate and his day-to-day service activities include processing gifts, producing acknowledgment letters, managing donor websites, and also database management for all donor constituents. He was the assistant coach to the San Miguel Varsity co-ed soccer champions, and is currently the assistant coach of JV boys basketball. Kat is on the eighth grade team, teaching language arts and reading. She is also the assistant coach of the girl’s volleyball team.

HOW DO THESE VOLUNTEERS TOUCH MINDS AND HEARTS AT THEIR SERVICE SITE? The entire culture of San Miguel allows these volunteers to touch the hearts and minds of the students. When Erik is doing development work, he knows that those campaigns to raise funds directly impact the students. He says, “Development requires a lot of patience which has to translate into your dealings with the students. I try to remember that as much as possible. The smiling faces of the students remind me why I do what I do each day.”

Kat has known that she wanted to be a teacher since she was in elementary school. It is very important to her that she engages the students at San Miguel in new and creative ways. Kat feels very lucky to be serving at San Miguel because she recognizes the love of learning that the students bring with them every day. She says, “Students always ask for help and ask to be challenged in the most unique ways. Their love for learning doesn’t come from them sitting quietly at a desk furiously writing down every word I say. Their obvious desire for learning is shown through the way they challenge a lesson. If you’re unprepared, if your lesson is boring, if you haven’t given thought into preparation it is going to show. Learning how to tailor a lesson, and then watching them actually ENJOY IT, that is when I feel success. Watching these students who so eagerly want to learn fully engaged and excited about a lesson—that is what this is about, that is what makes me feel successful.”

HOW HAS ERIK AND KAT’S FAITH HELPED THEM IN THEIR SERVICE AND IN THEIR COMMUNITY? Both of our volunteers describe prayer and their faith lives to be of primary importance to their volunteer experience. Kat describes faith as necessary in being able to do her service well when she says, “without faith none of this would be possible for me. I am fortunate to work and live in a place where I am free to express, practice and embrace my religion. My faith allows me to see the good in places of struggle My faith allows me to see God in those people I encounter each and every day.” Additionally, one of the most powerful expressions of the Lord is often through other people. That is certainly the experience of Kat and Erik who find God often in the students at San Miguel. Erik says, “A student told me, ‘Mr. Thomas, you are from here now, you live here all the time, so Chicago is your home.’ She was welcoming me to her city and I thank God for letting these kids be a shining light in my life.” In Kat’s daily life, she sees her students as leaders to each other against fear and violence. She says of the difficulties they face, “I see God in my students each time I witness them protecting one another which takes the shape of standing up for one another, and encouraging each other to do the right thing. They live in a tough part of town but these students know that they have each other.”img_9619-jpg

HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED KAT AND ERIK AS LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS? Both Kat and Erik spent a lot of time in college and high school with Brothers of the Christian Schools and have good relationships with Brothers in their home communities. They speak fondly of those men because as students they were taught, encouraged, and cared for by Brothers in college. Living in community with them has changed and matured their understanding of the life of a De La Salle Christian Brother. Erik has found two men who he looks up to as second fathers. Kat has experienced her Brothers to be the perfect combination of the mother and the father, an idea we find expressed in the Founder’s Meditations. She says, “Ever since high school I have had good relationships with the Brothers I’ve had as teachers or mentors. I can say that each of them has made me feel that I am capable of doing amazing things, and have validated my desire to help others. Living with Brothers this year, I have experienced much of the same. However, living with these Brothers has challenged me. Instead of offering inspiration they are giving me advice, instead of saying, ‘go out and do it,’ they are saying, ‘well, what can you do better?” I feel supported, empowered and challenged by living with these men who have decades of experience dedicating themselves to the Lasallian tradition.


Kat and Erik have very different roles at San Miguel but they agree that Lasallian Volunteers allows young people, who are looking for a chance to change the world and impact others, to do so in a unique way. Both Erik and Kat place a high value on faith and immersion into the community that they are serving in as a transformative aspect of the program. Erik says, “It’s a chance for you to walk, talk, and live with those that you will serve and that will impact your life for the better.” Kat echoes this when she says, “Going in with the thought that you have what these people need, before you actually know them will get you nowhere. It takes building relationships, understanding and change within yourself to be effective where you are.”


By |December 2nd, 2016|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on December 2016: San Miguel Chicago

Huether Inspires Lasallian Volunteers

web-lvsFifteen Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) were among the nearly 300 attendees of the Huether Lasallian Conference, which took place in Chicago, Illinois, November 17-19, 2016, with the theme “The Good Samaritan: Confronting New Poverties in the 21st Century.”

The 43rd annual conference offered a combination of speakers, breakout sessions and opportunities to build community with Lasallians from across the Lasallian Region of North America.

“Just meeting people who have the same mission,” said Abby Michels, a second-year LV serving at De La Salle Academy in Concord, California, who is also a graduate of Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. “Just being inspired by what they do and how we are all in different ministries. We experience different struggles and different successes, but the mission stays the same. Just to be with these people is so much fun.”

web-sat-lv-abby-casaThe Huether Conference also provided an opportunity for LVs to reconnect with each other and experience the wider Lasallian mission together.

“This is pushing us even further along in our journey, as well as just developing our knowledge of what it really means to be Lasallian,” said Ellie Cash, a second-year LV serving at San Miguel School in Washington, D.C. “To get to do that together outside of the context of just Lasallian Volunteers is unbelievably beneficial and just allows us to grow in a completely different way.”

web-and-e-blast-abby-ellie-katieAfter Huether, Katie O’Leary, a first-year LV serving at De La Salle Academy in Concord, California, who is also a graduate of De La Salle Institute in Chicago and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, was looking forward to bringing back to her ministry some ideas she picked up in the breakout sessions. She also hoped to share with her students the excitement she felt by being surrounded by others passionate about the mission.

“Every time I am in a situation like this, I grow deeper in my love and appreciation and desire to continue with the Lasallian mission in this Lasallian community,” said O’Leary. “I am Lasallian to my core, and I love seeing other people … continuing to grow and to give back to that community, and that’s what I hope to do forever.”

Read more about the Huether Conference >

See more pictures >

By |December 1st, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Huether Inspires Lasallian Volunteers

Reflecting on LVs Run

web-best-lv-group-pre-runOn November 13, months of planning and training paid off for the 11th annual LVs Run. Twenty-four Lasallian Volunteers (LVs), two Brothers, three Alums, and five family member and friends participated in the 11th annual LVs Run in San Francisco, California. This event surpassed its goal of $60,000 and raised over $62,000. Donations are still being received.

 Mari Irby, a second-year LV serving at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, New York, and a member of the run committee, offered this reflection on her experience.

For the 10 years prior to this year’s LVs Run, the run has generated a considerable amount of money for Lasallian Volunteers. It has been a great opportunity for the program to fundraise and increase the resources it has available so that the program can continue to recruit, train and accompany LVs during their year or years of service. Raising over $60,000 and surpassing our goal through LVs Run this year was no easy feat but the point of the fundraiser, to me, had very little to do with actually raising all of the money as much as it did raising awareness for our program and ultimately allowing us the opportunity to share the story of Lasallian Volunteers. That story is one I am blessed to be a part of and one I truly believe in.

web-john-and-ivette-2During last year’s LVs Run, I was a participant and not involved with the process of planning and organizing the event, and so I had a different perspective on its importance. This year was a different story. As a member of the run committee, along with Matt Billings (serving at La Salle Academy in Manhattan, New York) and Tidiany Diarra (serving at La Salle Academy in Albany, New York), I felt a very different level of importance geared toward the success of the run. The feeling of fulfillment that came both with finding out that we had reached our monetary goal and the excitement of the volunteers who worked so hard to take part in it was overwhelming. To work alongside students, residents and clients who have endured so much and yet still work hard to better themselves is a profound privilege I have within this program.

As second-year LV John Schatz aptly put it, “LVs Run also serves as a morale booster to everybody involved in the program. I, for one, returned to DeLaSalle High School with a revitalized passion for the Lasallian mission and my students are better off for it.”

The success of this run and all the fun that we had spending time together as a cohort further affirms the necessity of this program and what raising money through LVs Run each year could mean to secure the program’s future and that of those we serve.

As I reflect on the run, I am so humbled when I realize how much support we have for this program, made obvious by the generous donations from people all over the nation. I hoped that the run would double as a reminder to all of us why we must continue what we are doing; certainly, if the success of the run did not do that, the overwhelming outreach from alums, donors, family and friends could. The implications of the service we do exceed far beyond what is expected of young adults, especially in current times. I look forward to all of the things this program has in its future and I’m never short of gratefulness for being a part of this journey.

See more photos >

By |December 1st, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Reflecting on LVs Run

Viviana Ortiz: Embracing the Unexpected

Viv Ortiz, 16-17, DeLaSalle HS, Minneapolis, MN

Viv Ortiz, 16-17, DeLaSalle HS, Minneapolis, MN

If you were to ask me what term comes to mind when I think of living in community, it would be “embracing the unexpected”.  The first time I had to do this was when I learned that I would be serving and living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I would be moving 1,633.4 miles away from a summer state (Arizona) to a state where half of the year is in winter mode.

As the year, has gone by embracing the unexpected has become the norm not only in community but in other aspects of my life as well. Learning to deal with weather at all times, like when you decide to go on a target run and a hailstorm comes out of nowhere and strands you in a random church parking lot.  Adapting to the times when you have to take one of your Brothers to the hospital at 9pm because he cut his finger on a power saw, and embracing the 2-inch snow fall at 3am because your community member needs to be taken to the airport.  This, and several other series of events, have all led to me growing as an individual who is ready for whatever the unexpected may bring.   Anything that six months ago I would have been challenged with.  Not only this, but these experiences have also led me to learn and experience what community really means: acknowledging that not all personalities mix well but at the end of the day you will do anything for your community members when they really need you.

Viv & two of her community members John and Suzanne

Viv, John Schatz and Suzanne Denson

Community not only mean individuals living together serving in a common purpose, but it is also a synonym for family.  Like families, communities come in all shapes and sizes and not everyone will get along at all times but there is an underlying love that is always there.  You even have extended communities, just like extended families, that are willing to take you in at any given time, especially during the holidays.

I am not only thankful for my experience of living in my Minneapolis community this year, which has helped me grow. I am also thankful for those outside of our community who have a extended a warm welcome and embraced us LVs as their own.

Viviana Ortiz is a 1st year LV serving at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She is a graduate of the University of Arizona and San Miguel High School in Tucson, AZ.

By |November 30th, 2016|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Viviana Ortiz: Embracing the Unexpected