by Michael Carr
Only one month has passed since our group first arrived here in Baltimore, and yet it seems like we’ve been here for so much longer. Each day gives us new challenges and new experiences!
Last week, Nyerre and I began participating after school in student residences at Villa Maria and it was wonderful to see some of the same students who come to Pre-Vocation (life skills, home economics) in a relaxed ‘home’ environment as well as several other students who live in the residences and go to public schools. We helped with homework and watching the students like the rest of the staff, but our position provides a unique relationship with the students as volunteers. We have the opportunity to connect with students inside and outside the classroom, and if I can brighten the day of even one student, that would be my goal.
Every time I meet someone new in connection with my job, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of gratitude and respect. Everyone thanks me and the rest of Project SERVE for dedicating a year of our lives to service and intentional community, and it seems from their point of view we’re on some sort of honored pedestal. I do feel grateful for these kind words but I’m not sure that our volunteering is any different from everyone else who participates in Catholic Charities. We’re dedicating a year of our lives, to be sure, but we’re given a wonderful house to live in and a stipend for food and personal expenses and a whole plethora of other benefits and amenities. So many people we’ve met have spent years and decades in the same service, and whole careers in Catholic Charities. THAT’S truly amazing. The fact that we’re spending a year of service pales in comparison to the time and energy that so many other people contribute. Honestly, I feel ever so blessed to have a place to live, food, and a job to do that I don’t think about the fact that I have no salary and I’m not a regular employee. Project SERVE is as much about others serving us as it is about us serving others, and again I’m so grateful to everyone who has made Project SERVE possible.
So the next time you see one of us, we’ll accept your thanks for our commitment to volunteer service but just remember that we’re thankful to all of YOU for making Catholic Charities possible for all the people who desperately need help in all aspects of life. Our role is not really a sacrifice since we’re flooded with support and kindness and love from our coworkers, our supervisors, and the clients and people who need our help.
So thank you!! Good night and good luck!