Ask and You Shall Receive

Lately I have been thinking a lot the well-known phrase “ask and you shall receive” in regards to my year of service at St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) thus far. If I have needed a resource of some sort, all I have had to do was ask people at work and someone would have an answer. Whether it be something work-related, like how to enter an individual into the database, or something else, such as where to find the best chili in the area, they have always been able to provide more information than I initially needed. For instance, this past weekend the other Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati (VVC) members and myself decided that we would travel to Red River Gorge in Kentucky for a little outdoor camping, hiking, and house bonding. We decided to ask some nearby friends and people at work for camping supplies, and boy did they deliver! We were able to get an 8 person tent, sleeping bags for everyone, sleeping pads, and a cooler with wheels (amongst other things). We had a great time not only because we were able to spend a relaxing weekend with one another, but also because we felt so blessed that everyone had generously lent us their camping gear so that we could have a great camping experience together.

In addition to the “ask and you shall receive” phrase, I have also recently been thinking a lot about the story of the loaves and the fishes from the Bible where Jesus was able to provide more than enough food for the large group of people who came to listen to him speak. After only working at SVDP for about 2 months, I already feel part of a large family consisting of the people who work there. Oftentimes there have been leftovers from an event or a meeting and everyone immediately thinks to give them to us VVC members first. Another time this theme has recently rang true has been during our annual RetroFittings fundraiser; this event involves an auction, raffle, and fashion show in which fashion students from the University of Cincinnati receive $10 clothing vouchers to be redeemed at one of our SVDP thrift stores and then have to make an outfit out of the materials they buy. An email went out to everyone who works at SVDP asking for volunteers for this night of fundraising. Once I arrived to volunteer myself, I realized that at least 90% of the staff had showed up to help out with this event. It was great to see everyone come to work together for a common cause, just like at work when people help out in the food pantry or with the holiday programs when extra help is needed. I kept thinking to myself that the turn-out for volunteers at RetroFittings (as well as the enthusiasm they brought along with them) was as abundant as the loaves and the fishes in the story.

This year I hope to continue to get to know everyone at work even better, especially when collaborating these next 2 months on our various holiday programs that we offer. I also hope to be able to grow as a person through my experiences at SVDP by keeping the Vincentian values of faith, friendship, and service always in the forefront of my thoughts, words, and actions.

Jeanette is a current Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati (VVC) member participating in a year of service who is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She currently works at St. Vincent de Paul in the social services department as a client advocate and bed program facilitator. She looks forward to making a difference in the lives of others during this year of service.

Transitions

As I watch the leaves turn from bright summer green to vibrant shades of purple, red, orange, and yellow then gracefully dance through the air to the ground below (where they sadly shift from beauty to a huge chore, requiring me to get out the rake!), I finally pause to recognize the transition that has happened over the past several months. Another year has begun – one group of Vincentian Volunteers has been sent forth to what lies ahead, and another is here, settling in to their new positions, their new house, their new community. My toddler Andrew shifts from reminding us where Rob sat at our dinner table to recalling the names of his new SVDP friends who have joined us to break bread. It happens so quickly, and when I finally stop and recognize the transition, I am filled with gratitude for the relationships formed and memories created with the groups that have left, and gratitude for the hope that comes with the new group that has joined us. Like the leaves, the cycle continues.

Where can we find last year’s Vincentian Volunteers? All three are following passions of theirs… Mary works with underserved youth in Detroit, through a nonprofit called the Youth Development Commission. Rob continues the work he started at SVDP, serving as the Campus Minister at Purcell Marian High School here in Cincinnati, as well as teaching Morality and Service Learning classes. Demar returned to school to study Public Policy at the University of Michigan; we look forward to seeing how he uses his education to better advocate for people in the margins.

And who are our new Vincentian Volunteers? Here is a brief introduction to our new group. Hopefully you will hear directly from their voices in the months to come.

VVC 2014-15

Clockwise, from bottom left.

Jeanette Lesenko: Jeanette comes to VVC from Doylestown, PA, by way of Immaculata University, also in Pennsylvania, where she studied Psychology, Philosophy, and Social Work. Jeanette has committed much time to working with people who struggle with mental illness and hopes to go into counseling or social work, getting a chance to try it out this year, working in our Social Services department. She is part of the Bellarmine Chapel SVDP Conference this year.

“An intentional community of volunteers is a group of motivated individuals who commit to accomplishing a similar purpose or cause – collaborating with others as well as utilizing each person’s unique talents in order to create a common goal that exemplifies communal dedication, enthusiasm, and teamwork.”

Luke Greene: Calling San Antonio, Texas home, Luke joins us most recently from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA, where he earned degrees in both Industrial Engineering and Theology. Luke is putting both of his degrees to work, dividing his time between the SVDP Thrift Stores and the Ozanam Center for Service Learning. He is part of the Cathedral/St. Xavier SVDP Conference this year.

“Solidarity is a simply a side effect of love. When you care for people solidarity evolves. You see the dignity of the person beyond all of the social, cultural, and economic differences. You treat and care for them like your own family.”

Tim Barr: Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Tim has called Cincinnati home for the past four years, during his studies at Xavier University.  Tim majored in communication studies and served as a very active member of the campus community. This year, you will find Tim working in the Choice Food Pantry…or in the big, blue truck, picking up food and personal care items. He is part of the St. Bernard SVDP Conference this year.

“I am a firm believer in finding God in things around me whether that is my friends, family or even my personal interests. My faith is present in my everyday life by the way I treat others and strangers that I meet.”

Andrea Rosado: A native of Brentwood, NY, Andrea is not a stranger to the Midwest, as a recent graduate of University of Notre Dame, with a major in biochemistry. Before hopefully pursuing a degree in medicine, Andrea is spending the year with VVC working in the Charitable Pharmacy. She is part of the St. Antoninus SVDP Conference this year.

“Meaning in the world is found through relationships with others and being with them in God’s loving presence. Healing the suffering of another involves entering into relationship with them and with God. The fate of another person is beyond my control, but I can at least offer my compassion.”

Kelsey McCarty: Kelsey calls Colorado Springs, CO home, but has also made a home in Cincinnati over the past four years, studying Middle Childhood Education at Xavier University. Kelsey spent much time doing service with nonprofits throughout the Cincinnati area, and she is spending the year working in Social Services. She is part of the St. Joseph, West End SVDP Conference this year.

“Intentional community helps us to become citizens who are more aware of the multiple perspectives that surround the issues of our world and allows us to work together to see what we can do to both understand and work for change.”