BY JOCELYN TRAINER
When I first applied to be a Loretto Volunteer I had a certain feeling of excitement and hope of what social justice work would look like. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think I would be running around D.C. in a cape saving people and enacting changes right and left.
BY MELANIE FARRELL
Prior to working at The MICA Project, I thought I knew what it meant to fight hate. Hate, I believed, was something that could simply be combatted with kindness. It was one or the other. No compromise.
BY HANNAH DORFMAN
Intentional. It’s a word we toss around a lot as Loretto Volunteers. The program requires us to live in intentional community with our housemates. We are encouraged to be intentional about our time, spending habits, and impact on others and the environment. The work of social justice requires an intentional focus on solidarity, collaboration, self-education, and showing up. During my first year as a Loretto Volunteer, I learned how to integrate intention into nearly every aspect of my life. Intentional became less of a word and more of a mindset.
By Caitlyn Haggarty
I have never been a fan of uncertainty. Nobody likes big changes, but I find a way to take it to the next level. This has been a theme throughout my young adulthood. From choosing to put together a 1500-piece puzzle instead of packing for my first year of college to hesitating to actively look for and apply to jobs in the semester before graduation, my preferred method of dealing with change has been to ignore that it was happening. In fact, I had a really hard time completing this reflection, as it marks the end of my time as a volunteer.
By Lizette Guevara
Goodbye with a wave
Really not enough to say
Heart’s breaking away
By Mary Louise Pabello
I have known the struggle of migrants all my life, being myself an immigrant to the US. But after the border trip with Loretto’s Latin America and Caribbean Committee, I find myself asking, “do I really?”
Like the young woman I met at Casa Nazareth, my mother crossed countries while three months pregnant, and with two young daughters in tow. Unlike the young woman, however, my mother wasn’t fleeing violence in her home country. My mother wasn’t made to cross miles of desert on foot. My mother had a husband waiting to receive her. This young woman’s husband was in an unidentified detention center. She was alone. No family other than the life she carried, her yet-unborn child who might grow up never knowing their father.
By Ari Alvarez
While scouring through Strand Bookstores in Union Square, I came across a book that caught my attention. Title: Goodbye to All That; Writers on Loving and Leaving New York. Immediately, I felt a connection to the title and all the personal essays tucked into it. Living in New York is an experience that can be difficult to sum up into words- but here was a fair attempt. This book, decorated with a brownstone on the cover, introduced me to the work of Joan Didion and her 1967 essay, Goodbye to All That, dedicated to her coming and going from New York. Didion’s 1967 essay has inspired many to write and reflect on their time living in New York, including myself. Here is my personal ode to this trash filled, magical city in the form of a packing list as I prepare for my upcoming “New York farewell."
By Merette Khalil
Over this past year, I have spent my days at the Family Health and Birth Center working as the Patient Advocate. While this position is a catch-all, entailing lots of “as assigned or as needed” support and liaising between our patients and providers, I spend many hours every day troubleshooting issues, related to insurance and medication coverage, to ensure that patients receive their medications. While there is a certain thrill when these small battles are won, this type of advocacy work is exhausting: Spending hours on the phone each day between pharmacies and insurance companies, listening to patients describe endless ways a simple transaction (picking up medications) failed, trying to come up with creative solutions and engaging all parties in the process to ensure success. Every day I am at work, I am reminded and confronted by the extent to which the US Health Care System is broken, prioritizing profits over people, and disregarding the higher-risk, low-income, complicated-case and multi-barriers-to-wellness families. However, I am also encouraged and inspired, daily, by the work my colleagues do to justly, patiently, and compassionately serve and support our patients in the face of such stark and ubiquitous opposition.
By Hannah Dorfman
Before I started my Loretto service, I could not wait to explore community, simple living, and social justice. Spirituality, however, was intimidating. I didn’t know how to define it or how to express it in my life, community, or work. It was the core value that was much less familiar to me, much less tangible. A part of me was nervous to dive into spiritual reflection and cultivate my own spirituality.
Perhaps because of my initial trepidation, spirituality has become the area in which I have experienced the most growth. It sustains me to live simply, relate to others, and do the work for justice. I have come to view my daily routine, my relationships, and my activism through the lens of spirituality. In short, I have learned to find spirituality in the small things.
By Glen Bradley
It has been just short of a month since this year’s Loretto Volunteer cohort went to the United Nations’ 2017 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City. Our two and a half days of the Commission was packed with opportunity, with over 150 sessions (both by member states and NGOs) to choose from. Many of us had scouted out the sessions beforehand using their app and had a full schedule.
With the weekend beforehand to explore the city and reconnect with the volunteers in the other cities, we began our week balancing personal interest with strategically going to sessions together.
While the snow shut down and canceled all session for the Tuesday of our visit, we kept our spirits high and looked forward to making the most of our time in the city and the sessions we’d go to on Wednesday.
I came to the CSW with two objectives: learn something that would inform my work in queer activism/advocacy and learn about an issue I had very little knowledge of. As the type to over-commit, I had filled each available time slot with a session on my calendar. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to go to each, I made a goal to attend at least one session a day that connected to queer issues somehow and another that didn’t but sounded like something I wouldn’t find outside of the CSW.
The session that stood out the most was “Challenges and Achievements of LBT Women in the Workplace” because it covered the complex and intersectional realities of LB* women in each country. In this session, four panelists from around the world (Mexico, Fiji, China, and Lebanon) spoke on what types of workplaces were available to women in their countries and how cultural factors impacted LB women’s economic freedom.
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.