I’m working as the assistant representative to the Loretto Community’s NGO at the UN and have been busy learning the intricacies of the UN system and Loretto’s important advocacy role within these processes. I’ve had the opportunity to participate on several NGO committees focusing on issues such as peace and disarmament, sustainable development, financing for development, mining, and the rights of girls. Through Loretto’s participation in The Working Group on Girls, a coalition of over 80 NGOs, I had the opportunity to help execute an event for the International Day of the Girl in which global girl activists came to the UN to share their stories. I’ve been attending a wide-range of meetings and events that relate closely to the core values of the Loretto, and about which I report back to the community so they have a sense of the global work happening at the UN. I’m loving the collaboration that happens among other faith-based groups, NGOs and agencies and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds!
Last year I lived in the D.C. Junia House, while this year I live community in New York with a former Loretto Volunteer and Jesuit Volunteer. Both of these living situations, though different from each other, have shown me the beauty of having housemates with whom I don’t just share a physical space, but also a commitment to supporting one another and building relationships. My housemates and I are conscious about setting aside time for personal and house-related check-ins, which I really appreciate. The process of building a home space with others has taught me that it is not just about connecting through a shared set of values, but also about co-creating a space that nourishes the individual values of the whole. I’ve learned a lot from my housemates this way and love how this living style makes all other dimensions of Loretto Volunteer life possible.
What has been one surprise, challenge or learning this year?
It’s taken some time to settle in to a whole new volunteer year, and to being the only current Loretto Volunteer in New York. I’ve had to be careful not to compare my two volunteer experiences, as they are very different and this type of thinking takes away from what I’m doing and loving right now. It’s been great to meet other volunteer corps members in the city, who can relate to my commitments and help to hold me accountable for living out program values. It’s also been fun to connect with some of the Loretto co-members and community members in the area. What was at first a challenge turned out to be a great opportunity to foster new and meaningful relationships.
What do you value about your relationship with the Loretto Community?
The wise and loving spirit of the Loretto Community has been as an ongoing sense of inspiration for me as I navigate my own journeys of working for justice and peace. Their fierce passion for social justice is evident in their daily lives, a quality that I really admire and for which I strive. But even more importantly, I value the relationships that I have formed with Loretto members during my time with the volunteer program. The community has supported and encouraged me in lots of different ways, from reading poetry at our pre-service send-off to mentor meetings on skype to reading and commenting on our reflections. I love the Lorettos for so many reasons and look forward to continuing my relationship with the community even after my volunteer experiences.
What advice do you have for someone considering doing a year of service?
Do not be afraid to seek out a placement that seems a little out of your comfort zone. The most crucial part when looking at a wide array of positions is feeling passionate about the mission of our work so that we feel motivated to really invest ourselves in it. The beauty of the Loretto Volunteer Program is the many opportunities to learn, cultivate new skills and challenge our thinking. There are plenty of ways to personally develop and grow throughout the year, but only if we’re committed to the overall scope of our work will it be sustainable and make an impact that reaches beyond just one year. Both of my positions with Loretto have challenged me to step outside my perceived comfort zone, a feeling that is both vulnerable and unfamiliar, but has allowed me to engage my values in a meaningful way.
The Loretto Volunteer Program pairs young adults with social justice organizations for a formative year of service. Through meaningful work and communal living, volunteers live out the Loretto Community's mission to work for justice and act for peace - guided by the core values of social justice, community, simplicity and spirituality. Winner of the 2013 Call To Action Leadership Award, the Loretto Volunteer Program proudly prepares young adults to begin lives of public service.