Answering the Call

Newsletter issue: 
September 2013
News item date: 
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

By Kaitlyn Guzik (In-Country Coordinator of Community Development)

The 2013 – 2014 Volunteers pose with Deacon Patrick Moynihan, President of The Haitian Project. From left: Andrew Roznowski, Stacey Collins, Tommy Cody, Kristin Soukoup, Amanda Gaal, Tara Kingsley, Natàlia Soares, Andrew Hyrzca, and Rachel Thelan.

“Knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)   When it comes to this year’s in-country Volunteers, THP knocked and nine doors were opened.  From Brazil to Minnesota, this year’s group brings a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds to the table, including four Romance languages.  But all of the Volunteers have something in common: enthusiasm and the desire to give as a gift what they have received as a gift.

The oldest of seven children, Andrew Hyrzca, already knows a thing or two about living in community.  Andrew grew up near Pittsburgh, PA and attended the University of Notre Dame (ND), where he majored in English and cultivated a long-standing passion for US literature.  His high school varsity experience with soccer and basketball is already proving useful as he makes a name for himself out on the court.

Stacey Collins graduated from ND this spring, where she majored in Italian and the Program of Liberal Studies.  In spring of 2011, her studies brought her to Bologna where she also taught English to 7th-graders. In spite of her experience as an English teacher, Stacey’s greatest contribution to the community may be the joy she’s brought to each task, no matter how demanding.  Stacey will lead the fight against fatra (trash) this year as she takes responsibility for one of LCS’s many vital tools—the incinerator.

It’s hard to say whether Kristin Soukup’s trilling laughter or the thoughtfulness with which she approaches her responsibilities at LCS is her most appreciable quality.  Another ND grad, Kristin majored in mathematics and Spanish. Kristin’s efforts to cultivate fluency in Spanish over the years have brought her to Spain, Chile and Ecuador.  During her two-month stay in Ecuador, she also served as a volunteer English teacher. Kristin originally hails from Cedar Rapids, IA.

From the small town of Park Rapids, MN, Rachel Thelan is a Midwesterner through and through.  A recent graduate from the College of St. Scholastica, Rachel completed a double-major in mathematics and fine art. In her home and college communities, she has extensive experience serving as a track coach (Rachel’s sport is pole vaulting), and in music ministry where she plays piano.

Tommy Cody graduated from Providence College this spring where he served as a member of the Campus Ministry Pastoral Council.  During his time at PC, Tommy also worked as a writing tutor, served as editor for PC’s literary magazine, The Alembic, and as a member of the The Cowl’s (PC’s student newspaper) senior writing staff. Tommy majored in English.

Natàlia Soares, another PC grad, is originally from Belo Horizante in Brazil.  Fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese, Natàlia had the opportunity to serve as an interpreter at World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.  While at PC, Natàlia studied elementary and special education, worked as a resident assistant, and served as a member of the Liturgical Choir.  Natàlia also has experience teaching CCD in her home parish of Lowell, MA.

The yearly Volunteer orientation is an exciting time, but it can also be challenging to bring so many new community members up to speed in just a few weeks.  This year, however, THP is fortunate to have the ongoing leadership of third-year Volunteer, Amanda Gaal (Loyola-Baltimore ’11) and two second-year Volunteers, Tara Kingsley (PC ’12) and Andy Roznowski (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).  Thanks to their guidance and mentorship, the new team has settled into the routine of community living in record-breaking time.