A year of service for a lifetime of change

Written by Patricia Huelseman

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in leadership, Mary struggled with the question: “What next? Grad school? Apply for jobs?”

A friend suggested that she join him in the Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati (VVC) year of service program. She told him she didn’t think it would be a good fit for her, but she applied nonetheless.

“I loved every bit of the experience,” she said. Mary’s year of service, from 2013-2014, gave her an experience she’ll value for the rest of her life.

“It was a challenging year,” she said. “It was everything I needed to grow and learn more about myself professionally, learn more about where I saw myself in my faith, and to make some really great resolutions. I’m really grateful to VVC for that.”

The Vincentian Volunteers live in community for 11 months in a home in the West End where they make new discoveries about themselves, their faith, and their relationships with others. Embracing this great opportunity to broaden their horizons, Vincentian Volunteers benefit from a mentor and gain valuable professional experience working side by side with St. Vincent de Paul staff.

Mary worked in the Social Services department and had a direct impact on our neighbors in need, helping them find ways to pay their rent, keep the electric on, and find a bed to sleep on at night.

It was emotionally tolling; Mary struggled with the stories she heard on a daily basis. But it was also incredibly rewarding. “To honor their humanity and just provide some dignity that maybe some of these folks aren’t used to getting on a daily basis because of their situation, that was definitely rewarding.”

Mary’s year of service provided her with the skills necessary to move on to become a youth development coach and a program coordinator at University of Michigan. Mary will now start her graduate studies in higher education with a focus on diversity and social justice. Her experience as a Vincentian Volunteer of Cincinnati has prepared her for a career and life as an advocate for social justice.

To learn more about Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati, visit SVDPcincinnati.org/vvc, call (513) 562-8841 ext. 239 or email vvc@SVDPcincinnati.org.