BY ANA AVENDANO
The mountains here were formed much in the same way everything is—from lava.
Scalding hot anger determined to run its course.
But the lava here they keep contained. Trapped between cinder block walls, in chains, unable to rage then cool on its intended path.
In here, they like to keep it cold. To kill germs, prevent disease, they say. But everything here is already sick.
BY ADELE MCKIERNAN
Last month, I decided it would be essential for me to wed myself. Not in theory, in practice. This wouldn’t be a thought experiment; it would be a marriage. And there would be a ring, flowers, an outfit, vows.
I’m acutely aware that I’ve been known to make grand declarations for best-laid plans every now and then. My mom likes to tell the story about how I declared resolutely that I was moving away to join the circus—the first she’d heard of this—to my pediatrician during a routine physical. My college friends (used to be able to) recount the number of times I’d vehemently sworn off dating to “prioritize personal growth”. Then there were the many times I was sure I’d be married by spring. I’d convert to Judaism. Move to Israel. Move to Ireland. Become a nun.
So, being adamant about my self-marriage scheme wasn’t off-brand— it was dramatic, and sensational, and romantic—it had all the markings of a classic decision inspired by familiar surges of equal parts fear and hope. Both absurd and logical and somehow a very good and not particularly great idea. But the whole thing was atypical in one critical way.
It’s good news when you reject things as they are
BY BECCA KRASKY
Our fall retreat day opened with listening to Good News by Sweet Honey in the Rock, and an invitation by our facilitator, Rev. Anne Dunlap (UCC) to embrace the good news: good news that we were about to spend the day, together with about forty volunteers and staff from several other Christian service-year programs, reflecting on how white supremacy and institutionalized racism surround us in Denver.
What are you up to these days?
"I’m currently the Pathology Clerk for a law firm in beautiful Athens, GA. I live with my partner, Dean, and our (fur) baby boy, Ringo. In my spare time I play Dungeons & Dragons, listen to podcasts, and dance Baile Folklorico."
How does your year as a Loretto Volunteer impact your life today?
"My year with Loretto has taught me that even when I feel insignificant when fighting for a greater cause, my presence and my energy still makes an impact. My attendance at a community vigil or volunteering for a few hours at a local nonprofit may seem unimportant in the moment, but I know that solidarity in any form has a strong ripple effect."
What is a favorite memory or highlight from your volunteer year?
"I think my favorite memory from my year was when a client farted in my face as she was getting up and reaching for her walker. It sounds completely absurd and it’s a bit of a long story, but in that moment I completely froze and thought to myself, “I have absolutely no training for this.” Haha! I realized that moment summed up a lot of my year, there were many difficult/strange/hilarious moments that no amount of training in the world could have prepared me for. In those times all you can do is be genuine and do your best. The client apologized, of course, but she said she wasn’t ashamed. '$&!@ happens!' she explained. All I could do was shrug and laugh because she was totally right, $&!@ DOES happen. 😅😅"
What's one resource or recipe you'd recommend to our current volunteers?
I recently found a recipe that shows you how to make box brownies taste homemade. I think this would be a godsend for current LoVos who are trying to treat themselves while still ballin’ on a budget!
BY REILLY REBHAHN
"Without community, there is no liberation."
Audre Lorde’s words stare at me from my felt-rainbow-letter-board hanging on the wall. It’s been almost three months since I chose that quote from a random post I’d seen online. “If I surround myself with positive messages in my office, everyone I meet with will feel better,” I thought back in August. My first few weeks at Empowerment, I decided to invest time and energy into creating that “good vibes” space. I started printing out any inspirational image I’d see online. “Oh,” I’d think with a tear in my eye, “a kitten on a branch and it says ‘Hang in there,’ this is perfect.” I felt myself forcing it. I wanted my office to be a lighthearted space-- and not to mention, my high-functioning anxieties over whether I was qualified enough to do my job were somewhat soothed with retail therapy. Volunteer life had been out to a rocky start, and I couldn’t remember why exactly I got this job.
By Gabriele Eissner
Ubuntu. I am because you are.
I came across this word in my high school history class. I was fascinated by it. Despite having roots in ancient Africa, the concept of ubuntu is most well known for being a guiding philosophy of post-apartheid South Africa. There is no word in the English language quite like it. In fact, living in an individualistic society, there isn’t even a concept quite like it. After a brief period of wanting the word tattooed on my arm, I forgot about it.
BY CELINE REINOSO
Since arriving in El Paso, my community has been on an intense search for (free) events and activities to attend, in an effort to make the most of our year and explore our new home. Unfortunately for us, a lot of the events in El Paso are advertised by word of mouth, so it was a slow first couple of weeks, attending Facebook-advertised events that had an average of 10 people—including us—show up.
BY AMY MALTZ
Recently I’ve been marveling at my life. One month ago I was in El Paso, as a Loretto Volunteer, working at a homeless shelter. A year before that, I was a college student in San Diego. Five years ago, I was still in Oregon, going to high school and fantasizing about one day majoring in Marketing (that dream lasted about a semester into college). Now I live in New York City and go to work at the United Nations everyday. New York is sticky and crowded and bustling; and despite having wonderful housemates, a welcoming supervisor and a slew of caring Loretto Community members close by, I feel quite overwhelmed by it.
BY CATHERINE ROBERTS
Okay, perhaps I exaggerate to use the word "prodigal."
Still, until the Labor Day homecoming retreat for friends and former volunteers, prodigal is how I felt.
It had been three years since I had any substantial contact with Loretto; I'd missed the last two homecoming retreats. I almost didn't go to this one. It's been too long, I told myself. No one will remember you. Loretto is a part of your past.
Yet relegating Loretto to my past, like a fondly remembered dream, felt too painful. I swallowed my apprehensions and bought a plane ticket.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.