Discovering deep connections between the people I serve (both adults and children) and myself has spurred me into the beginning of my own personal awakening of sorts.
As an AmeriCorps volunteer, I help a variety of people in an array of different Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and affiliated ministries. My first AmeriCorps year has been both quite rewarding and hectic. Each ministry is making an immeasurable contribution to our local and global community, in my opinion. However, for the purposes of this post, I will only go into depth with a few of my experiences.
With the help of a fellow AmeriCorps service member and a number of other gracious volunteers, summer 2017 will be especially engaging for children who are a part of our Beatitude House Immigrant Outreach Ministry. So far we’ve taken the children to the Youngstown State University Planetarium, the main public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, and Lanterman's Mill at Mill Creek MetroParks. The children learned about such things as the tale of Orion, the famous mythological hunter, to the formation and use of iron oxide (rust) found under giant rocks at the park for face-painting by Native Americans.
Other field trips are planned, but all of us serving and volunteering for this program are uniting to ensure a comfortable, learning-enriched atmosphere at our main location on the west side of Youngstown where we meet with the children each Tuesday morning.
Tuesday evenings find me serving at the Dorothy Day House on Belmont Avenue in Youngstown. Here, our guests come each evening from 5 (sometimes earlier) to 6:30 p.m. to enjoy the meal and company provided by dedicated volunteers. Serving food to those in need is just the beginning. This place focuses on peace and justice for all creatures.
Helping at Dorothy Day House is certainly a humbling experience. Here, there are continuous opportunities to become informed about and engaged in beneficial talk and action. For instance, I’m part of the newly formed Refugee Committee here, where we work with other groups to find ways that will help integrate some refugees into our communities in the near future. Some of the roundtable discussions, held every third Thursday evening of the month, have given some insight to this topic and other justice-inspired ones.
Both the Immigrant Outreach Ministry and Dorothy Day House have especially significant people who help keep them moving – respectively, Ursuline Sister of Youngstown Norma Raupple and Humility of Mary Sister Ann McManamon. But as mentioned earlier, many others give their talent and time to these lovely ministries.
All of the experiences mentioned throughout this post, and more, shape me in countless ways, making sure to keep me mindful of the ways in which I live my life. We are all interconnected, and we must make sure to celebrate, respect, and protect one another as often as possible.
These ministries opened up a spot where I can help do that and more, so I am grateful.