Advice From a Recent Volunteer

Some of you have packed up and left the only home you’ve known in the rearview mirror. Perhaps your family has been your cheer squad on the journey to get here, or maybe they are worried for you and have been questioning why you’ve chosen partake in a year out of your comfort zone. Many of you are recovering as you transition out of a higher education experience. Your education isn’t over yet though! This year will teach you a lot, it will introduce you to new people, it will challenge your heart’s limits, and it will hopefully give you a new perspective on the reality of injustice in our world.

This time last year, I was just like you. I had just moved to a new city, and I was excited to step into my new role, anxious to learn about my new environment, and scared to live with a new group of people. I honestly didn’t know what I was searching for and I didn’t know what I would find.

In my search for post-graduate service I looked into faith-based programs, secular programs, large national programs and small local programs. I had my fair share of application fatigue, but after thoughtful reflection and a prayerful discernment process, I found a spot I felt I was being called to. I spent my year with Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry in West Baltimore, and my placement was working in an Early Head Start Classroom working with Infants, Toddlers and their families.

Now that you’ve entered this network as a volunteer, you will have the chance to meet many people who have volunteered in the past, and I’m sure if you haven’t experienced it already, you’ll quickly come to learn that people who have been a part of life-changing service can talk your ear off about it. It’s weird to think that your experience may be something you love to talk about in the years and decades to come considering you’re just at the kickoff now, but this year will fly by. Here’s some advice from a recent volunteer:

  • Appreciate all of the moments and lessons, and don’t let them slip by. Your time is going to be spent differently than it has been in the past, so don’t let it go to waste.
  • Enjoy your new environment and find its hidden charms. Take the time to get to know people and the cultures that have influenced life here.
  • Keep a journal if you can to document it all. Now, whenever I’m feeling a little culture shock, I like to re-read parts of my volunteer journal to keep myself aware and remember the situations and people I’ve learned so much from.
  • Every person that you encounter can be a teacher to you if you let them. Your community members, your coworkers, and especially those you are privileged to serve, all influence your growth and understanding of a new perspective. Even the babies whom I worked with last year were teachers to me. They taught me a great deal about joy, resilience, and unconditional love. And to think I walked in the door on my first day thinking that I would be the one teaching them!
  • My last tip is this: don’t forget to talk to God in whatever way enriches your relationship with God. Maybe you pray through journaling, or music, or by doing the examen, or by running, or in silent reflection. No matter what way you do it, exercise your prayer life. During this year you’re likely to find a new style of prayer that you love, but you won’t know until you try.

    Each volunteer has taken their own path in coming to their role. There are millions of things that set you apart from one another, but one of the things that you all have in common is that you’re a part of this community. You all have chosen to serve, and we thank you for that. I wish you and your community continued blessings for this service year, and I’m looking forward to hearing and reading the fantastic stories that you will collect as you gain a new perspective!

    – By Faith Yusko

    CVN Recruitment Associate
    Former Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry Volunteer 2016-2017

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