“Everything changes, nothing remains without change.”

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay awhile, make footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.” – Flavia Weedn

Another year has come and gone, but I know this past year has left an indelible mark on who I am today and who I am striving to become. The Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati (VVC) community from the 2014-2015 service year has taught me how to love more deeply in my friendships and to extend this love to our neighbors in need at St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) as well as to the world as a whole. I have learned and grown so much from spending a year living with these individuals in addition to listening and serving our neighbors in need day in and day out. While I am going to miss Kelsey, Tim, Luke, and Andrea and the year that we spent together (yes, even the chores and cleaning schedules!) I know that this past year and these inspiring individuals will remain with me in my heart, continuing to lay the foundation for who I am and what I strive to accomplish for the rest of my life.

And yet, in the midst of reminiscing and saying goodbye to my VVC friends from last year, I am also excited to now be living and connecting with four new community members during the next year! I have chosen to spend another year with VVC and SVDP in a new position and with a new community. I know that things will not be the same at work or in the VVC house but I am ready to listen and be open to the new opinions, challenges, and possibilities that await me.

Having just completed the first week of orientation and retreat, I am eager for a fresh beginning with some new faces and unique perspectives. I look forward to the good times as well as the struggles that we will face ahead while in the process of coming closer together as a community. I also look forward to delving into my new position by taking a deeper look at poverty and gaining advice and insight from those who live it every day in order to further understand how it can be challenged and overcome.

So let the new year begin!

Let this be the year where I challenge myself to become more humble when listening to, learning from, and serving our neighbors in need; let this be the year when I learn even more about my strengths as well as my shortcomings in the give and take that is community; and finally, let this be the year where I strive to grow even more than the last by facing my fears and challenges head on alongside my community so that I may emerge a stronger, more patient, more understanding, and more loving friend come next July.

“Everything changes, nothing remains without change” – Buddha

077Jeanette Lesenko is our first 2nd year member for the VVC program. She will be spending this year helping implement the Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ by World program, working with people experiencing poverty through a 16-week course.

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Meet the 2015-16 Vincentian Volunteers

VVC 2015-16 orientation

Rooted in St. Vincent de Paul’s mission and tradition, Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati is a faith-based, year-long, residential service program. The program provides young professionals in their twenties an opportunity to grow in faith, friendship and service by giving deeply of themselves to neighbors in need. Join us in welcoming the 2015-2016 Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati!

 

Rachel Eldridge joins us from New Albany, Indiana, having just completed her degree in Strategic Communication and Leadership at Indiana Weslyan University. You will see her at our Outreach Center splitting her time between working with our homelessness prevention program and assisting our PR/Marketing department. Rachel will be part of the St. Antoninus SVDP Conference.

 

“To me, intentional community goes beyond just living together; it’s about sharing a journey together as we pursue common goals. Community living requires self-giving and caring for the needs of others as well as one’s own.”

 

Jeanette Lesenko is returning for a second year with VVC. Originally from the Philadelphia area, with a degree in Psychology and Social Work from Immaculata University, Jeanette will be helping the District Council to implement the “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World” program. Jeanette will be part of the St. Bernard – Spring Grove Village SVDP Conference.

 

“I feel as though there is more that could be done to create a longer-lasting solution for those struggling with poverty, and I hope to foster change of thinking as well as services in support of this vision. I strive to empower and motivate our neighbors in need by first digging deeper in order to better understand their motivations and hardships in addition to listening to their suggestions for change.”

 

Amy Noser, originally from St. Louis, recently graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in Music Studies. Amy will be splitting her time between the Ozanam Center for Service Learning and working with Volunteers at the Outreach Center. Amy will be part of the Guardian Angels SVDP Conference.

 

“My faith is something that is always influencing values and choices, and in many cases the reason why I can come to a decision in a particular situation. My faith and relationship with God are the fuel for my life, and without them I do not know where I would be.”

 

Karuna Reang, calling Tripura, India her home, just finished her degree in Political Science, International Studies, and Healthcare Administration from Stonehill College, south of Boston. Karuna will be working as a patient advocate with the Charitable Pharmacy. Karuna will be part of the Bellarmine Chapel SVDP Conference.

 

“To connect with people and listen is a respectful thing to do, but living in solidarity with them is a whole different level. It is more than just hearing about their problems. It is walking alongside them. It means changing the relationship you have with the sufferer in such a way that you no longer view them as an ‘other’ – it means recognizing their place in the world, but also yours, and the relationship between the two.”

 

Justin Worthing hails from O’Fallon, Illinois but spent the past four years at Xavier University, where he studied Economics and Theology. Justin will be found splitting his time between the Ozanam Center for Service Learning and doing some Logistics work to benefit the District Council. Justin will be part of the Christ the King SVDP Conference.

“To me, solidarity means working together with a community to solve a common goal. Solidarity is not imposing an outsider’s vision onto a group of people simply because the outsider comes from privilege; instead, members aid each other through mutual support and companionship. It requires the willingness to be open and accessible to others despite cultural and/or economic differences.”