Monthly Archives: May 2016

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David Anderson: I am Medicine

David Anderson, 14-16, LaSalle School, Albany, NY

David Anderson, 14-16, LaSalle School, Albany, NY

When I arrived at LaSalle School for my first year of service I only had basic knowledge of what I would be doing. I knew I’d be working in recreation but I knew very little about the young men I would be working with. I knew it would be a challenge but I had no idea of the challenges those young men had faced, as well as how understanding the struggles of the young men would help me understand my own struggles. I especially didn’t think of myself as medicine.

As a first year Lasallian Volunteer the very first thing I had to do was attend Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) training. The first day I was hooked, right off the bat I received invaluable information about how and why our boys act the way they do. I learned that every time we do something we are seeking a specific response. At LaSalle sometimes the response our young men are looking for isn’t positive. I learned that part of the reason that is the case with the young men I work with is because the majority of them have been traumatized in some way or another. It was not until halfway through my second year as an LV that I realized that I am medicine.

During our TCI refresher class the facilitator posed the question, “what kind of medicine are you?” I thought hard of what my answer was. To understand the question we revisited the fact that our young men have been hurt and scarred and due to their traumas they psychologically changed. We were told how an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Score could lead to certain health issues down the road, the higher the score the more serious the health problems. This was extremely important to know because on average our young men had a score of 5 (10 being the highest). We even learned how crisis and trauma could literally change the make-up of our DNA.

David Anderson, TJ Diarra, and some of the LaSalle boys.

David Anderson, TJ Diarra, and some of the LaSalle boys.

So after a discussion and video my fellow staff began sharing their answers such as, happiness, love, joy, and other various responses while I thought about mine. I would think of my time at LaSalle and about my young men and the experiences I had. My mind would recall the times we went caving (spelunking) and the amount of fun they said they had. I could think of the numerous downhill skiing and snowboarding trips and how one of the young men wiped out and the laughter we all shared. There were a number of times as well when we have all at times refused our medicine just like the young men at LaSalle. Times when I attempted to deescalate a crisis but failed because as their medicine I was refused.

Sometimes I myself would need medicine in the form of my community members or fellow Lasallian Volunteers. It was not uncommon that I would need a prescription of support from another community and they were never short on their supply. I could always count on stress relief medication from the people in the program. And if there was ever a time I may have been slacking on certain paperwork I needed to turn in to the office in Washington, like caffeine the LV staff would help me focus in.

If you were to ask me now, “what kind of medicine are you?” I would respond by saying it depends on the day. Sometimes I’m forgiveness when I hear of the history of my boys, or when they get on my last nerve by disrespecting me. Sometimes I’m an anti-depressant when a young man is upset because he was not allowed his visit home. Most of the time I’m an excitant because I get to be the fun part of the boys’ day. Above all I am healing, I might be slow acting because my effects might not work right away but as an LV one day I hope to heal the wounds left over from the troubled past of the young men I work with. I am medicine.

David Anderson is a 2nd year LV serving at LaSalle School in Albany, New York and is a 2013 graduate of Lewis University.

By |May 25th, 2016|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on David Anderson: I am Medicine

Margaret Naughton to Join LV Staff as Associate Director

Maggie-Naughton-webMargaret “Maggie” Naughton will join the staff of Lasallian Volunteers as associate director effective June 14, 2016.

Naughton currently serves as a campus minister at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island. Prior to taking on that role in 2009, she had served as a theology teacher since joining the school in 2005. During her time La Salle Academy, she has also served as a Lasallian formation leader and varsity lacrosse head coach.

“I have big shoes to fill as the next associate director of Lasallian Volunteers,” said Naughton. “I humbly ask God’s Providence to guide me on this next part of my Lasallian journey. I am so grateful for my years at La Salle Academy in Providence and the wonderful mentors and friends I have journeyed with during my time as a campus minister, a teacher and coach.”

In addition to her service at La Salle Academy, Naughton brings a depth of Lasallian experience. She graduated from the Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies in 2014, and attended the Young Lasallians VEGA Assembly in 2010. She also presented at the 2014 Huether Lasallian Conference and the Lasallian Volunteers Orientation gatherings in 2014 and 2015.

She has been involved in a number of Lasallian gatherings in the District of Eastern North America, from being a participant to serving on the planning team as a co-chair. Her experience includes Young Lasallian District Formation, the Brother Luke Salm Religious Educators Workshop, DENA VEGA and Young Lasallians Steering Committee.

“Maggie comes to us with a strong background in Lasallian formation, pastoral care and passion for the Lasallian Volunteers,” said Kathleen Glackin, director of Lasallian Volunteers. “Her role as associate director will be marked with zeal and joy for the mission and those entrusted to her care.”

Naughton received her bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2003 from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and her master’s in theology in 2007 from Providence College in Providence.

Naughton will work with outgoing associate director Brother Dylan Perry prior to his departure June 30. Brother Dylan is leaving the role to continue his postulancy in the Midwest District, his home District.

 

By |May 20th, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Margaret Naughton to Join LV Staff as Associate Director

LV Alum to Join Christian Brothers Conference

Sarah_Laitinen_webSarah Laitinen, LV 07-09, will join Christian Brothers Conference as the director of Lasallian programs August 15, 2016. Laitinen served as a Lasallian Volunteer at The San Miguel School of Providence in Rhode Island from 2007-2009 and has continued teaching at the school since completing her two-year commitment.

Laitinen has carried her service as an LV through the many Lasallian experiences she has had since her time as a volunteer, and it will continue to be a source of inspiration in her new position.

“My LV experience has allowed me the opportunity to grow in our shared mission while learning so much from the Brothers and fellow Lasallians,” said Laitinen. “My time as an LV at San Miguel inspired me to continue my vocational calling as a Young Lasallian educator. I am grateful for the accompaniment, support and formation that Lasallian Volunteers provided me on my Lasallian journey.”

Laitinen is one of many LV Alums who have gone on to become leaders in the Lasallian mission by serving in a variety of roles including leadership positions in schools, Districts and the Region, along with being a voice in the worldwide Institute.

“Lasallian Volunteers serves as a strong formation program, and it is wonderful to see how LV Alums grow from their experience of service and living in community and become more deeply committed to the mission by saying ‘yes’ to serving in leadership positions,” said Kathleen Glackin, director of Lasallian Volunteers. “Having LV Alums in leadership positions allows for our mission to grow more widely and have a greater impact on those they meet. I am thrilled to welcome Sarah to Christian Brothers Conference in this role!”

Prior to serving as an LV, Laitinen graduated from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She also received her master’s in education from Saint Mary’s College of California. In 2015, Laitinen was named to the International Council of Young Lasallians. She has taken part in a number of formation programs and Lasallian gatherings, including graduating from the Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies in 2012, being a delegate to the 3rd International Symposium of Young Lasallians in Rome in 2014, and participating in the USA-Toronto Region VEGA program in 2010. She has also served in various capacities for initiatives of the District of Eastern North America, such as membership on the Young Lasallians Steering Committee and the Association for Lasallian Mission Committee, and as a delegate to the Mission Assemblies in 2011 and 2015. She is also involved in a number of local Lasallian committees and council, and has presented at a variety of Lasallian gatherings.

As director of Lasallian programs, Laitinen will assist the executive director in the creation, planning, execution and evaluation of programs for the Lasallian Region of North America.

By |May 19th, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on LV Alum to Join Christian Brothers Conference

LVs Energized by Gospel Encounter

Through membership in Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) Lasallian Volunteers is part of a larger network of like-minded leaders and programs that encourage a deeper connection to a volunteer’s vocational discernment and leadership development.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 10.36.24 AMFTE provides partner programs the opportunity to nominate current volunteers to participate in their Discernment Retreats with volunteers from other programs–one of several amazing benefits for LVs and the program as a whole. This year, four current LVs participated in these retreats. Below are reflections from two LVs: Gabbi Carroll, who participated in the East Coast Retreat and Ellie Cash, who participated in the West Coast Retreat.

Many thanks to Forum for Theological Exploration for providing this opportunity for Lasallian Volunteers!

Reflection by Gabbi Carroll 

This past February, I attended the FTE Discernment Retreat in Navasota, Texas, and it was nothing short of lifechanging for me. I arrived at Camp Allen just as the program was beginning, as my first flight had been canceled due to inclement weather in New York. The evening opened with a song called “You Are Welcome Here” by singer-songwriter, John Stringer. Immediately, I was struck and moved by the lyrics: “Welcome to love, welcome to peace, welcome to our community. Be who you are, let your light shine, we’re so much stronger when we unite.” This truly set the tone for the weekend to come.  I went into this retreat at a pretty rocky place in my vocation: I was being transformed by my LV year, had accepted my offer from Boston College to pursue my Master of Divinity, but was still feeling lost and frustrated, wondering if there was a place in ministry for me. The FTE Retreat not only assuaged by doubts and fears, but instilled in me a new passion to explore what I am being called to. One of our keynote speakers, Marlon Hall, said something that really sat with me: through our respective vocations, we are challenged to turn our “pain into purpose, and irritation into intrigue.” He had us focus on the why of our vocation, as opposed to the what or the how—which is something I had been stuck on.

Gabbi Carroll with new friends!

Gabbi Carroll with new friends!

I was also truly amazed by the diversity of whys among my fellow participants. We all came from different places, Christian denominations, identities, and life experiences; yet, despite the Spirit calling us in so many different ways, we all seemed to have the same goal: to better the world through justice and love. Everyone I met was so on fire for social justice: I was moved, challenged, and inspired by my fellow retreatants and leaders, and have found a new community of people to walk with in my vocational journey. Everyone was so accepting, inclusive, and loving: I felt safe, supported, and affirmed. I think the most important lesson I took away from this experience was that there is not one way—or “right” way—to do ministry, and if you find yourself having to pave your own path, then that is even more power to you. This new sense of freedom has been so liberating for me, and has provided me the courage and drive to really lean into my last few months as a Lasallian Volunteer with an open mind and heart: still unsure of the future, but with a new sense of peace and passion.

 Reflection by Ellie Cash

On the morning of my first day at the Forum for Theological Exploration Retreat, I was met with smiles and enthusiasm. While I didn’t quite know how or why I was chosen to be a participant, I spent time meeting many new faces and listening to stories and ideas about ways the pastors, community leaders, and fellow volunteers wanted to spread the Word of God. I was overwhelmed with how quickly I saw the Holy Spirit was alive and well in everyone. People from an endless number of Christian consortiums came together to form a faithful community unlike any other I’ve ever witnessed. We attended workshops and sessions that allowed us to reflect on what justice means in relation to the church, and how to continue working with the resources we had in our communities to be as inclusive of many backgrounds as we could. My favorite workshop was an exercise called the Clearness Committee. Three people sit and one at a time, share a situation or problem that is troubling them. The other two people then ask honest, open-ended questions of the person who shared their situation, so as to allow the person to come to new ways of thinking about the situation and possibly how to resolve it. The group is not there to offer advice to the person, but rather to walk with the person as they try to resolve their problem. It was an excellent opportunity to hear new, unbiased ways of thinking about issues that confront volunteers, teachers, and ministers, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.

IMG_6579We also had the opportunity to see faith in action, as we left the retreat center and explored various ministries around the Bay Area. I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Glide Memorial Church, and meeting Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, whose work and passion for serving the most vulnerable in the San Francisco area is nothing short of inspiring. The work that Glide does to help people who are homeless and addicted is incredible and it was a blessing to see God working in the lives of those who once considered themselves “hopeless”.

Looking back on this experience, I am so thankful to have met such a diverse network of Christian leaders, because it reminded me how much work has to be done to further the message of Christ’s love to different populations across the country and the world. I am grateful for all of the people I met and perspectives I heard, and I can’t wait to hear what comes of their ideas and ministries.

By |May 17th, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on LVs Energized by Gospel Encounter

Abby Michels: The Man. The Myth. The Love

Abby Michels, 15-16, De La Salle Academy, Concord, CA

Abby Michels, 15-16, De La Salle Academy, Concord, CA

Last year, when I was accepted to be a Lasallian Volunteer, I was beyond ecstatic. I found out that I was assigned to teach middle school boys at a Lasallian Catholic school in Concord, California. I was so thrilled to begin my faith journey in a new state at a school that was so different than what I grew up in. Going into my experience, I had no idea that a Catholic school would change the way I viewed education and my pedagogy. Even though Lasallian Volunteers is a two year program, working at this school has triggered a lifelong desire to be a part of the worldwide Lasallian Community.

The Man.

Since becoming an educator at De La Salle Academy, my relationship with “The Man,” aka God, has grown so much stronger. Each morning, during our assembly hour, we have Prayer and Reflection as a whole school. We focus on our faith and what is going on in the Catholic world today. During that time I can see how deeply rooted my students are in their faith. The devotion they have to God easily surpasses anything I had when I was their age. I think, ‘What capacity could my faith be at now if I went to a Catholic school growing up?’ I do not teach Religion, but it is comforting to know that I can connect the curriculum to our faith, if I wanted to. For example, one day in Math the boys donated a loan, through Kiva, to three different people in need. I asked them how this particular lesson spoke to them as Lasallians. We say Grace before meals, celebrate Mass, and have prayer ceremonies together throughout the year. At our staff meetings we begin with prayer. Having a constant reminder throughout the day that our work is attached to our faith is so nice, because I used to just think about God right before bed. Now I see Him more frequently, and for that, I am grateful. I see Him when the boys smile or sing, when they’re hard at work, or when they express how blessed they feel to be a part of this school. Seeing God each day at DLSA reminds me of the compassion I have been shown this past year.

The Myth.

Abby MichelsMyth: Students from low-income families cannot attend Catholic schools because they cannot afford it. Fact: San Miguel schools are real, and a true blessing to low-income families. Okay, I can see how the fact could be seen as an opinion, but once you know how affordable these schools are for low-income families, how can they not be? If you are unaware of what a San Miguel school is, I will enlighten you. A San Miguel school is a Catholic school that specifically admits students from low-income families. Can’t afford a Catholic education? No problem; tuition is affordable. What’s even more exciting is that (at least at my school) if you complete the four years at the middle school, and are accepted into the high school, there is the opportunity for you to receive a full scholarship there. Wow. How can I NOT want to be a part of that? It is incredible to see where my students have come from and the transformation they have made since being accepted into DLSA. The school they had attended before doesn’t compare to what opportunities DLSA has given them. From the help of multiple benefactors and philanthropists, my students have been able to go on a week-long trip to Yosemite, they have a full scholarship to the Youth Center across the street where they can get involved in sports, and have had the opportunity to tour Saint Mary’s College, which is also a Lasallian school that has inspired them to pursue a college degree. The list goes on. I have seen what donations have done to improve the lives of the disadvantaged youth. My students have had experiences they would have never dreamed of if it weren’t for the San Miguel model of De La Salle Academy.

The Love.

The love I have for my students is so real. It really helps having 16 students to a classroom, so that I get to know each one of them a lot easier. Because our school is so small (48 students), our staff of nine has a strong relationship with the boys we serve. We eat lunch with them, supervise their breaks, and support them for an extra hour and half each day; supplementary to the regular school day to help them get their homework completed. What I appreciate most about this school is that we focus on the morals and values of each student, not just their grades. While the grades determine if get the boys get into the high school, we want to make sure that each gentleman of ours is becoming a man of Integrity, Faith, and Scholarship. To be honest, I didn’t even know what integrity was until I got to this school. (Insert embarrassed, sweating emoji here.) On each report card our students’ receive, they are additionally graded on behavior and effort. A boy could be receiving straight A’s in all of his classes, and we’ll still give him a low score for his effort if we think he could do better. He could be receiving straight A’s in all of his classes and still not make Honor Roll if he has bad behavior. Yeah, we take it seriously here. But it is all out of love. While we want our boys’ academics to improve, so must their character. We want our students to enter our school ready to learn, and to leave their time with us ready to serve. Our boys notice how much we pay attention to their actions, and they actually appreciate it. They even call each other out if they realize a brother of theirs has made an error: “You’re not being a man of integrity!” Our gentlemen know that we love them and that we are here for them.

Abby Michels 2Because of DLSA my faith has grown, I have realized the importance of values in the classroom, and I have seen what a San Miguel model can do for a group of low-income boys that may never before had a chance to make it to the high school. I have come to love the setup of a single-gendered school because I can see how much more focused it makes my students, and how they have come to live by the companionship of “Brotherhood.” I hope to continue teaching in a Lasallian school post Lasallian Volunteers, but whether I do or not, I will make sure to carry what I have learned with me, wherever I go. This experience of serving in a Lasallian ministry has not only changed my boys for the better, it has changed me for the better as well.

Abby Michels is a 1st year LV serving at De La Salle Academy in Concord, California and is a 2015 graduate of Lewis University.

By |May 12th, 2016|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Abby Michels: The Man. The Myth. The Love