Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Share Your Wisdom: Melissa Feito - Loretto Volunteers, Washington DC



Melissa's reflective, fun, and expertly produced podcasts come full circle in this final piece, as she celebrates a year of service with three other Loretto Volunteers. Many thanks, Melissa, for bringing so much life and energy to CVN's  #servingwithsisters Ambassador series. Blessings as you continue your journey as a second year Loretto Volunteer!

The 2017-2018 Loretto Volunteers and our program director Mallory Daily, on our last day of closing retreat, at the Loretto Motherhouse.
From left to right, Mallory (Loretto program director), myself, and Mary Louise at the UN in New York, where she worked this year. 
From left to right, Jackie, Hannah, and myself, at a demonstration protesting Wendy's in New York City. You can read why here.
Melissa, a current Loretto Volunteer, will be blogging about her service experience as part of our ongoing Serving with Sisters Ambassadors series. This series is sponsored by CVN's From Service to Sisterhood Initiative, a project made possible thanks to the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Share Your Wisdom: Jessica Vozella - St. Joseph Worker Program - Los Angeles, CA

Jessica is one of five CVN Serving with Sisters Ambassadors – volunteers sharing the joy, energy, and fulfillment of serving alongside Catholic Sisters in CVN member programs, through creative reflection, conversation, and experience. This is her last post as her volunteer year comes to a close - thank you for following Jessica and her fellow Ambassadors over the course of their service year!

So here we were, driving through the entirety of the state of Kansas, having started our journey that day at 7 AM in Denver, CO. It’s the end of our program, and my community member Anh and I are on a road trip from Los Angeles to my home city of Boston, Massachusetts. One of the perks of driving so long is that you have plenty of time for reflection, which Anh and I did as we barreled down the highway. I told Anh about this blog and together we traveled back through our year, ruminating on wisdom we’d share with someone else interested in this opportunity.

My community. This picture was taken on our opening retreat in Lake Gregory, CA and remains one of our favorite group shots.

Community is truly a “you get what you give” situation. 
In our discussion, Anh and I remarked that there really isn’t a proper way to prepare for community living, but some take aways are as follows:
  • Try to let go of expectations. There is no standard against which you need to compare, but know what you want in community and know that to ask for it is the only way you will achieve it
  • Build in structure for your community; time together is really important!
  • The reality is that community is really hard. No one really told us that going in, but it is a hard part of this year, rewarding as it may be. It is okay to admit that it’s not always amazing, but it can become one of the best things about the program if everyone works on it.
My community member Molly and I after we ran the Homeboy Industries 5k. We originally were going to walk it, but we saw an opportunity to get outside of our comfort zones and ended up running part of our first 5k!
“Make this a year of ‘yes’” - Anh
The first thing that came up when we were brainstorming wisdom was the notion of being open to new opportunities. This year presented a lot: different work opportunities, new places to explore, chances to get outside ourselves and our community. Be reflective and kind to yourself; don’t take on more than you can handle! But try pushing yourself a little; you might be amazing at what happens!
An LA sunset photo taken on a solo stroll on the beach.
Take time to be reflective and process your experience
For me, talking with community members and mentors, journaling, and going to the beach were methods of reflection and processing my experiences. Taking time out of the week to think about your work is really important. Similarly, I would encourage taking some time to think about what you need out of your year, especially things outside of work and community. And then go get those things!

Me signing clients up for services at my work site, St Joseph Center, Homeless Service Center.
Keep your purpose at the heart of your year
It can be easy to get caught up in the difficulties of the year, of work, and of community, but keeping in mind the justice that your year is made for helps focus you and keeps your eyes on what matters. Keeping in this line of thinking, it’s important to try to remain in solidarity with the population you are serving by living simply and keeping up with the justice issues in the world. This year is a great chance to try out simple living challenges and more sustainable ways of life.

Me hiding in a cave on a beach trip I took with my community member Michaella in Malibu!
Be true to yourself
I feel like I grew up a lot in this year. I was confronted with confusing questions about who I was and what I believed, what social justice looked like, and what growing into an adult is like. In the midst of all that, I encourage any person to stay true to who they know they are. For me, reaching out to mentors in the program as well as a spiritual director was really important in my journey. There is not a perfect volunteer, a perfect job placement, or a perfect experience in this year. Instead, it is a perfect jumble of life that God helps us navigate and grow in. 

My community with Fr. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, and our program coordinator, Sr. Judy Molosky CSJ. Pope Francis made a special appearance, too!
I am so grateful for the opportunities that came my way this year and for all that I learned. This year has given me amazing tools to use in the world after my volunteer year and I look forward to where the world takes me. I am especially grateful for the opportunity to write this blog and thank you all in a special way for accompanying me on my journey in service.
A picture of the Los Angeles skyline I took on a reflective walk after spiritual direction.

Jessica, a current St. Joseph Worker, will be blogging about her service experience as part of our ongoing Serving with Sisters Ambassadors series. This series is sponsored by CVN's From Service to Sisterhood Initiative, a project made possible thanks to the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Share Your Wisdom: Allison Reynolds - Good Shepherd Volunteers

Allie is one of five CVN Serving with Sisters Ambassadors – volunteers sharing the joy, energy, and fulfillment of serving alongside Catholic Sisters in CVN member programs, through creative reflection, conversation, and experience. This is her last post as her volunteer year comes to a close - thank you for following Allie and her fellow Ambassadors over the course of their service year! 


What advice would I give to future full time volunteers? Simply: to keep an open mind, and to just love. 

First, keep an open mind. There are so many things that can happen to you within your year of service, so many new opportunities, so many new people you will meet, and different professional responsibilities will be expected of you during different times of your year. My advice during all these times is: do not be afraid, and be open to the new experiences being presented to you. You felt called to this position as a volunteer, and you were chosen to be part of your program for a reason. You must have faith in yourself that you can do anything that will be put in your path. All the challenges you will face is the best way you will grow throughout your entire year. 

This is an art project I did with my students at the Shelter!
During my first year of volunteering I worked at the Good Shepherd Shelter for domestic violence as a teacher’s assistant. Then around two or three months into my year, our population of children had increased where they needed another teacher. They asked me if I would be willing to teach Language Arts for 4th and 5th grade. In my mind I was thinking how unprepared I felt - I was not trained for teaching! I was nervous, however, I felt it was a growing opportunity and I knew the Good Shepherd Shelter staff would be supporting me the whole time. It was well worth the risk, and now I know new skills such as lesson planning and grading. During these difficult and new times, always be willing to try new things with an open mind, and if you do not feel comfortable or do not like it, then at least you tried it!

This was a class we hosted for 100 women, and the main language spoken was Quechua. We had interpreters to help us with the language barrier. 
Secondly, Just Love. Just Love everyone you come across during your service year. Everyone you serve will have a story. All they will want from you is love and acceptance, which are two things they might not have had before coming to you. For example, during my second year of volunteer work I have lived in Sucre, Bolivia where the two main languages are Quechua and Spanish. Quechua, I do not understand at all. Spanish, I understand now, but at the beginning was quite difficult to find the words to express myself. During these times of communication difficulties I chose to smile, give hugs, handshakes, head nods, and say what I could to show them I valued them and was willing to help them. These little gestures of effort can make someone else feel loved and noticed, which is something I had to learn by not being able to talk. This part of my second year has proven to be a beautiful experience, my Bolivian clients and I come from very different cultures, however, we have been able to communicate through love.

Mr. Erik (my supervisor) and I in front of our newly made bulletin board for our shared classroom.
 In conclusion, Love where you work and Love your coworkers. Their constant support towards you will amaze you and make you very thankful.  Love the work you do, put forward all your efforts, thoughts, and ideas with confidence and take out as much positivity as you put in. Love everything you do and do your best not to have any regrets, as this experience working as a volunteer comes only once in a lifetime and you will miss it when it is over.



Allie, a current Good Shepherd Volunteer, will be blogging about her service experience as part of our ongoing Serving with Sisters Ambassadors series. This series is sponsored by CVN's From Service to Sisterhood Initiative, a project made possible thanks to the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.