Volunteer View

Newsletter issue: 
September 2014
News item date: 
Thursday, September 11, 2014

by Krisitin Soukup (Lead Volunteer)

The 2014-2015 Volunteers start work: [From left] Rachel Thelen, Michelle Paquette, Kristin Soukup, Connor Branham, Amanda Haluga.

      After weeks of training and preparation, the 2014-2015 Volunteers have settled in to the routine of nights under mosquito nets and long days of work. First-year Volunteers Connor Branham, Amanda Haluga and Michelle Paquette have embraced the challenges of life at LCS. The recent graduates join two second-year Volunteers, Rachel Thelen (Saint Scholastica, ’13) and me, Kristin Soukup (University of Notre Dame, ’13).

      Starting with orientation in July, the new and old Volunteers have taken on the challenges of a new year with joyful energy. For the new Volunteers, the beginning of the year involves a great deal of changes in routine, environment, and responsibilities—all of which they have embraced with openness and enthusiasm and generous sharing of their talents.

      Connor Branham applied to serve at LCS after discerning a need for a change after college life. His ready sense of humor is a welcome addition to the often-hectic campus life.  A recent graduate of Villanova University, his studies in math and economics, experiences working as a tutor and teacher assistant and serving on the Liturgical Council at Villanova, will serve him well at LCS. Appropriately, Connor will supply the students’ demand for economics in the Philo (U.S. 13th grade) English class this year and fill the essential role of campus sacristan.

      Amanda Haluga is the latest Providence College Friar to embrace Volunteer life with The Haitian Project. Growing up with Sacred Heart Parish in Groton, CT had long given her a special interest in the country of Haiti. Her skills on the basketball court are almost as much admired as her song at weekly Mass. Though it’s only been a few short weeks, the joy with which Amanda embraced the LCS community reminds us all how fortunate we are to be parts of it.

      Michelle Paquette, another Connecticut native, is a recent graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville where she studied middle childhood education. Her background in education will be a great asset not only to her students, but also to her fellow Volunteers who are all novices in the classroom. Michelle is no stranger to living in a foreign culture, having previously spent extended time in Austria, Ecuador and India, she brings a worldly perspective to our community. Michelle is learning the ins and outs of the campus incinerator – one of the ashiest, and most essential, jobs on campus.

      Participating in pouring a concrete wall on their first day at LCS, cleaning, cooking, planning Mass and running the incinerator – the Volunteers have accepted and fully engaged in the work presented to them, and it is clearly transforming them individually and our community as a whole.

      In work projects as well as in conversation, they gain a deeper understanding of the importance and value of our work. They learn how a community can help you push yourself beyond self-imposed limits, and in so doing, spark a change internally. They see the external impact that the work has on our surroundings. They are experience the peace that comes when you fulfill a specific duty, and the way that work can become prayer. As Volunteers, we constantly strive to live out the line from the Rule of the Volunteer community: “Work joyfully, no matter how menial or simple the task.” Doing so together, it is already shaping up to be a fruitful and grace-filled year.