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February 2016: Martin Chavez

Martin Chavez

Ministry: San Miguel Middle School of Tulsa

College: Saint Mary’s College of California

What do you do? I’m a teacher, tutor, athletic director, coach, and breakfast server. At San Miguel, I’m known for making the “breakfast special”!

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer?

I became a Lasallian Volunteer because of my experiences with the Christian Brothers at Saint Mary’s College of California. Studying at a liberal arts college exposed me to prolific writers: St. Augustine, Miguel de Cervantes, and William Shakespeare; but, also it introduced me to the Christian Brothers. Despite living in a lavish campus, the Christian Brothers practiced humbleness by living simply and dedicating their efforts to the well-being of their students. For example, as a first generation college student, money was tight and college was daunting. The Brothers, notwithstanding, took it upon themselves to help me even though I did not request it of them. Their simple actions taught me the importance of unsolicited charitable action and humility. I learned the purpose of helping others is not for personal gratification, rather it’s supposed to enrich your neighbor’s life. After graduation, I understood the obligation to teach other communities the lessons the Brothers imparted upon me.

What is the most important “thing,” do you think, that your students need from you?

IMG_1606

My favorite and most important role is to be an encouraging adult for my students. They regularly experience stressful situations and have a limited network for positive reinforcement. Thus, encouragement inspires hope for them and provides motivation to overcome their academic and personal obstacles. I accomplish this by respecting my students and implementing our Lasallian virtues and traditions. St. John Baptist de La Salle said, “The more loving you are to the young, the greater the effects will be of God’s grace”. Even though I have the best students, there are moments when they jeopardize the learning process. These are the moments, which potentially, can be a learning lesson and are tremendously impressionable upon them. Rather than yell and condemn their actions, it is beneficial to help them realize the other positive actions. Adapting this approach showed me the relationship between respect and encouragement. Being able to respect an individual is a form of encouragement. Practicing respect takes the form of understanding their perspective. Thus, these episodes encourage them to choose the correct action and reinforce our commitment to serving the students.

Give an example of a time when you knew you were making a difference.

I’ve been fortunate to observe success while working for my students. Earlier in the year, I wrote about my experience as a volleyball coach. Even after the last whistle, the season’s results continue to blossom. The volleyball memories became a source of inspiration and  motivation while uniting our community. My bond with the girls and their families strengthened after the season. I enjoy talking with their parents after school and reminiscing about the season while looking forward to the potential for the next season. The girls’ enthusiasm and unyielding attitude became contagious within the student body. As a result, this winter saw the revival of a basketball program for our young boys. I took pride in seeing the influence and impact our team had upon the San Miguel community.

Why would you recommeIMG_1609nd that a prospective donor contribute to Lasallian Volunteers?

Donating to the program is crucial in allowing us to serve at-risk communities and instill our Lasallian traditions. In addition to living with Christian Brothers, our program is unique because we engage with underrepresented communities and help them recognize God in themselves. As a middle school teacher, our program allows me to provide a rich foundation of inspiration and support for my students. De La Salle said, “Example makes a much greater impression on the minds and hearts of the young than do words. Young people…ordinarily model themselves on the example of their teachers. That your words may produce their full effect on your students, preach by example and practice what you wish them to accept.” Each donation presents current and future volunteers with opportunities to share our talents with students and communities. Your donation encourages students to pursue education and their dreams.

By |February 1st, 2016|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on February 2016: Martin Chavez

December 2015: Julia Turner

Ministry: The San Miguel School of Providence

College: Saint Mary’s College of California

What do you do? I work in the Graduate Support Department at San Miguel. We do tracking and outreach to our Graduates who need extra support. Our department runs an Academic Resource Center two days a week for all graduates. We work with high school aged graduates, college aged graduates, and beyond.

Julia with fellow LV, Tom Darnowski serving at The San Miguel School of Providence

Julia with fellow LV, Tom Darnowski serving at The San Miguel School of Providence

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? I chose to become a volunteer because I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I’ve always wanted to help people. I feel extremely fortunate to have the life that God has given me and I’ve always wanted to give back. I know there is injustice in this world and there are many people who do not have the same opportunities that I do. I want to make sure that regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, that everyone gets a fair chance in this world. Every single person in this world deserves equal opportunities; unfortunately that is not the case. I know I can’t change the world completely but I know I can make a difference. I know I am making a difference by working at The San Miguel School. This program has provided me an opportunity to help people in need. I’m very fortunate that this program exists because it’s given me the chance to make a difference, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Which of the core values (Faith, Community, Service) are most important to you?

Julia with members of her community

Julia with members of her community

Each of the three core values are extremely important in their own right. They are all intertwined and you cannot really have one without the other. Each of the core values is very important to me. When I think of the core value of faith I think about my own relationship with God. There have been times during my service where I have needed support and I have found that going to God/church has been helpful. The value of faith is also part of community. As a community we pray together multiple times a week. This is an essential part of community because you get to learn so much more about each other. We get to see what kind of faith background our other community members have, and we get to learn from them. Our community is very helpful and welcoming when it comes to faith, because it is very welcoming to people with all different kinds of backgrounds. We are all able to pray in our own way and share how we believe in God. I think this is a very important factor that contributes to the core values of faith and community. Part of what makes our community so special is our ability to have good and productive prayers. The core value of community is so important to me because it has allowed me to create very strong relationships with the people that I live with. Having dinner together gives us an opportunity to talk about who we are and also allows a support group for us to talk to one another about our days. The first year LVs are able to bounce our problems off the second year LVs and seek advice when necessary. Going out on community events and experiencing things as a community is very important to me. Our community loves to be together and loves to laugh and I think that this fact has made my transition very easy. I think it has helped me a lot.

By |December 1st, 2015|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on December 2015: Julia Turner

November 2015: Molly Nocera

Molly taking students to a pumpkin patch

Molly taking students to a pumpkin patch

Ministry: Catalyst Maria Charter School, Chicago, IL

College: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

What do you do?

I serve as an Instructional Assistant for 1st and 2nd grade, and I help out with the After School Program.

Have you noticed any signs of success in your work? 

I recently started doing reading and phonic interventions with elementary scholars. I was paired with a student who had just transferred to Catalyst Maria. We would sit down and work on CVC words three times a week. This scholar struggled with blending his letters together to form a word. He often became discouraged after constant trial and error. This would ultimately challenge his confidence, leading him to shut down during our sessions.

New to interventions, I decided to ask around for different methods. A teacher advised me to break the word down on my arm. The next time we worked together I tried it out. The word was “cat.” Together we broke the word down and blended it down our arms. “CA-CA…AH-AH…TAH-TAH… CA..AH..TAH …CA-AH-TAH.” We tried this breakdown multiple times. Then, without a beat, I could see a breakthrough in his eyes as he shouted out, “… GOAT.” Now I know you’re thinking that’s pretty far off from the word “cat.” However, for the first time working together that scholar was confident. I’d say success doesn’t get better than that. It’s the small victories that lead us to the great ones. Since his recent growth of confidence he has aced the word “cat” and many other CVC words.

Which LV core values are most important to you? 

What essentially lured me into this program was community. A large portion of my education was served at Lasallian institutions. Both places (high school and college) stressed the importance of your community. There is something powerful about having individuals link up in supporting the mission of De La Salle.

Molly (front) with Chicago and Wisconsin area LVs

Molly (front) with Chicago and Wisconsin area LVs

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?

Time hopping ahead I know I will be reflecting about how much I grew during this year as a Lasallian Volunteer. In just a few short months I have been graced with powerful experiences and interactions. I realized early on that I had to keep up with an open-mind and be willing to adapt. Working in a classroom setting means your constantly ready for impromptu situations.

I also used this year to focus on personal reflection. “How am I growing in faith, community, and service?” “Am I challenging myself and my students” And one of the most important questions I ask myself, “where am I struggling?” I had to realize that there were days where I would struggle, but ultimately that was okay! It was these situations that allowed me to grow the most. Plus, one of the greatest perks of being a Lasallian Volunteer is your recourses. I could ask for help from my community, service, Brothers, the main office, other volunteers, or my assigned mentors. This is a community that definitely has your back!

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

If you’re a college senior considering volunteering, this is the ultimate post grad option. You spend a year embracing a new neighborhood, living in community, diving into service, and partying with the Brothers as they bestow their wisdom. What’s better than that?

And although the program is education based, it is certainly not limited to education majors. I graduated as a theatre major and was unsure of how I would fulfill a role in the program. TheLV Staff works with you in discovering your strengths, weaknesses, talents, etc. This allows them to properly place you where you can thrive. Working in the classroom I can see my major come into play every day.

I strongly encourage those seeking their vocation post-graduation to consider Lasallian Volunteers!

 

 

By |November 16th, 2015|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on November 2015: Molly Nocera

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

September 2015: Liz DiPlacido

Liz DiPlacido, 14-16

Liz DiPlacido, 14-16

Service Site: De La Salle at Blessed Sacrament, Memphis, TN

College: La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA

What do you do?

Breakfast Duty, teach 4th grade Writing, Social Studies, Science, Religion, Co-teach 5th grade Reading and help run the Afterschool program.

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer?

My reason for wanting to be a Lasallian Volunteer is rooted from my junior year in high school theology class. Each week we received a Maryknoll magazine, in each of the magazines it highlighted a work of a Maryknoll sister or lay missionary. This was the first time I read about lay missionaries and the work that they do. I always kept it in the back of my mind something that I would want to doI then continued on to La Salle University, where I received a degree in Elementary/Special Education. After graduating from college, I wanted to be a teacher but I still wanted to do “service with others instead of for others.” As a Lasallian Volunteer, I am able to be a teacher, but I am also able to wear different hats be more involved in my students lives. For example, I co-teach 4th grade but I also am involved in the breakfast/before school program and the afterschool program. I am able to learn more about the 4th graders and other students in the school being involved with these types of programs.

What is the most important “thing,” do you think, that your students need from you?

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-1

The most important “thing” that my students need from me is being there for them. It could be an ear to listen to their issues/ideas or to just hear about the things happening in their lives. A shoulder to lean or cry on when things are tough and might not be going their way, it could be pushing students to not settle and reach their highest potential in academics, or any aspect of their life. Helping them dream and giving them the tools to reach their dreams. Being ‘there” could be as simple smiling and saying “good morning, how is your day?”

Was there a moment where you felt accepted by your students?

The first time I felt truly accepted by my students is one day last year after a student stayed after school. The student lived in the neighborhood where our school is so I walked the student home. The student then asked me if I wanted to meet their parents. It meant a lot to me to have a student welcoming me into their home. Another time in which I felt accepted by a student was this year we were making relief maps in social studies out of flour, water, and salt. A student told me it was very similar to a dish in which her family makes called Mandaz, which is an African donut. The next day the student brought me in one of these donuts for me to try.

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

“Lasallian heritage is rooted in a spirituality of justice and love, expressed through our respect for each person as a fellow traveler who is a member of the Church learning. It is a heritage manifested by undramatic virtues like listening, understanding, and sheer human decency. Its application includes self-examination on how well we practice what we preach about tolerance and social justice. Living in the Lasallian tradition of association entails affirmation of the other person’s sense of self-esteem based on compassion and forgiveness.” Brother Emery Mollenhauer, F.S.C. 

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

I would recommend a contribution to the LV program to a prospective donor, because this program is one in which the gift keeps on giving. The LVs are teaching, mentoring, coaching the future leaders of the world to be successful in all aspects of their lives through the Lasallian tradition. By giving the tools the LVs need to help jump start our future generation of leaders, you are already making our society a better one to live in. 

12-Virtues-LVHow would you like to continue your involvement with the Lasallian family after your time with the Lasallian Volunteers?

The major way in which I will continue with the my involvement with the Lasallian Family would be to live out Brother Agathon’s Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher: Prudence, Wisdom, Patience, Reserve, Gravity, Silence, Vigilance, Gentleness, Piety, Zeal and Generosity. In addition I would like to be a future mentor to LVs in the area that I will be living in. Finally take an active role in the future LV runs.

 

 

By |October 7th, 2015|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on September 2015: Liz DiPlacido