Amber Summers was a Loretto Volunteer for six months in 2005. She served in the Community Service and Campus Ministry departments at St. Mary's Academy (SMA) in Denver, while living in community with another volunteer and three Sisters of Loretto: Cathy Mueller, Joan Sperro, and Mary Ellen McElroy. The room she stayed in belonged to Marie Ego, who was then working in Ghana. Amber has worked at SMA ever since, and every year she returns with a group of students to the Loretto Motherhouse in June. She's pictured with her daughter, Nora. Read on for our Q&A with Amber!
What are you up to these days?
I am in my fifteenth year at St. Mary’s Academy. I was hired after my volunteer term to work and teach in the high school. I teach Intro to College Writing and Current World Issues. The main focus of my job is being the Director of Service Learning. I get to take students to the Motherhouse every summer as well! I live in Indian Hills, Colorado with my husband, Rod, our daughter, Nora, and our two dogs.
How does your year as a Loretto Volunteer impact your life today?
In addition to getting me a job, my time as a Loretto Volunteer affected my life in numerous ways, both practical and philosophical. While I’ve never been a frivolous consumer, living off such a small stipend forced me to examine how I spent money. I developed practices I still implement today. For example, if I want to buy something like clothes or products, I wait a week. If I still want it a week later, then I’ll purchase it. I limit where I shop, and think about it as an investment in that company. While I admittedly do not have a timer in my shower like we did when I was a volunteer, I am very conscious of my water usage, as well as electricity.
The Loretto Community has been instrumental in my personal formation. Its inclusive values based on social justice align, motivate, and inspire my philosophical approach to life. I have been a co-member in process for quite some time and will pick that back up once I have a few extra minutes in my days.
What is a favorite memory or highlight from your volunteer year?
What's one resource you would recommend to our current volunteers?
I'd suggest any book by Parker Palmer or Anne Lamott. Read the Loretto books as well, as they’ll help you realize the incredible legacy of strength and perseverance. Dollar theaters usually have half price days. Last but not least, use the public library - you can access relatively recent music, movies, and of course books, all for free!
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.