Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alumni Talk: Finding Joy After Service

By Jill Rauh, Outreach Coordinator at the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and Rostro de Cristo alum

A Lasallian Volunteer works with
students in the classroom.
It’s that time of the year when many volunteers are ending their time of service and asking, “What is God calling me to do next?”

If you find that question difficult, think of your vocation as the intersection between what you enjoy doing, what you have the skills to do, and what the world needs you to do. In the best case scenario, your time of service has helped you to discover all three.

In my own case, when I completed my year of service with Rostro de Cristo eight years ago, I knew that the time living and working among the poor in Ecuador had left an indelible mark.  The year of service and the friendships developed taught me to be instead of do, and to listen, encourage, and empower instead of to do for. It also awakened in me an overwhelming sense of the need for solidarity, not only between individual people but also between nations. I saw more clearly than ever the need to consider “impact on the poor and vulnerable” as an important criterion for foreign policy and, having become more in-tuned to international affairs, I realized that sadly, this was not often the case.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spotlight on: Casa de Esperanza

By Alyssa Sickle, Executive Assistant and Events Coordinator

Do you watch the TODAY Show while you eat breakfast or get ready for work in the morning? If you were watching on June 15th, you might have caught a special segment highlighting Casa de Esperanza, a Catholic Volunteer Network member program in in Houston. They had the honor of being included in TODAY’s annual “Lend a Hand” program, which highlights five charities around the country. In addition to being visited by the morning news program, Casa de Esperanza received donations from corporate sponsors and received a special visit from former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

Casa de Esperanza de los Niños, the House of Hope for Children, was selected to be on the “Lend a Hand” program by the TODAY Show staff, who asked their contacts in various places around the country to make recommendations on local charities. The TODAY Show researched Casa before contacting them and then continued to learn about their community work as they planned details for the big day and requested donations from corporate sponsors.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Learning to Trust

A reflection on this week's readings.

It’s been more than four years since I’ve returned home from my time as a Franciscan Mission Service missioner in Zambia. Many times since then I’ve been asked the same question “how did mission change you?” At first it was difficult to think of any part of me that mission didn’t change, but the more I reflect on it, the clearer my answer has become. More than anything else, mission taught me to trust God – and that trust has changed everything else about my life.

I probably would have told you that I believed God is trustworthy even before I packed my bags for Zambia, but now I can say that this truth has sunken into the deepest parts of me. I learned to trust in the same way Peter did. He did the impossible and stepped out on the water, but so soon after experiencing that miracle he began to doubt that out there on the rough waves was where God really wanted him to be.

For the first year of my mission, I lived and worked in an orphanage for children under the age of seven. Most of them lost their parents at this young age to AIDS. I was put in charge of twelve two and three-year olds. I can remember, very vividly, the first time I had the task of putting those twelve kids to bed all by myself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Good Eats: André House of Hospitality

Submitted by: Elizabeth Diedrich, André House volunteer

I have always enjoyed cooking and entertaining for friends and family. I enjoy finding new recipes, setting the table, and welcoming friends into my home. The laughter and conversation that happens when friends gather around a table and break bread together is truly a moment of grace.

André House volunteers work hard to make spaghetti.
In that way my transition into the kitchen of André House was very natural. On the other hand, cooking for 600 is a little different than cooking for six. André House is a hospitality center in downtown Phoenix. At André House, we provide basic need services to the homeless population. This includes clothing, showers, laundry, hygiene products, blankets, phone calls, Bibles and rosaries, backpacks, and sleeping bags. Our largest service each day is dinner where we average 600 trays of food per day.

In many ways 600 trays of food is very impersonal; each person and each tray becomes a number. Yet, at André House we try work hard at creating a welcoming and personal atmosphere in the same way we would for a family dinner. The people we serve are truly our guests, our neighbors, and our friends.

We start each meal from scratch. Fresh vegetables picked up from the food bank, fresh bread donated from a bakery, and 40 pounds of frozen ground beef serves as the base for each meal. Each day we serve a fresh lettuce salad and many days we have a fruit salad as well. Anywhere from 20-40 volunteers come each day to chop 50 pounds of onions, slice 1200 slices of bread, wash lots of dishes, and stir the 30 gallon pots.