First published by Catholic Volunteer Network, March 13, 2017
How did you find your volunteer program? What appealed to you about it?
I like to say that this program found me, rather than the other way around! Through the Catholic Volunteer Network I was able to connect with the program director and formed a relationship that led me here. Not only was I drawn to its mission of service in under-represented areas, but I also discovered that they have a campus focused on mental and behavioral health – something I am very passionate about – and this discovery basically sealed my decision. I realized that volunteering with the SJWP would mean I would grow in spirituality, leadership, justice awareness, and communal understanding and so here I am!
Where do you serve?
I serve in the Mission Integration department at Mission Hospital. I create and implement education and formation experiences for physicians, employees, and volunteers at both Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach campuses. I also work with the Interpreter Services team to provide resources for our non-English speaking patients. In my ministry, I aim to improve patient satisfaction and increase cultural intelligence within the hospital community by making sure every encounter is a sacred encounter.
How has service strengthened your faith and your understanding of vocation?
This program has certainly been a blessing to me. Not only do I wake up each morning knowing that I am about to positively touch someone’s life, I have also come to understand how big a role ‘community’ plays in service and vocation. I am in an environment where the women who surround me every single day share the same goals and values as I do. This means that I have the opportunity to develop friendships that reinforce my spirituality and faith while eliminating the bad qualities. I know that I am where God wants me to be.
What have you learned from living and working with the sisters?
One thing I have learned from the sisters is the spirit of letting go and embracing trust. It is so easy to worry about everything – what will I do after this year? Where is my life heading? Will this ministry be enough for me? However, the sisters have taught me through their actions and in their words that God is always with me and He has a plan for my life if I just let go and put my faith in him. According to Sr. Joanna, my program director, “It is amazing how much young women can learn when they are led by the Holy Spirit” and I couldn’t have said it better myself!
What advice would you give to someone interested in full-time volunteer service?
Small changes make a huge impact and being adaptable makes the experience so much more enriching. No matter where you are placed, you ARE making a difference and being open-minded will certainly make for a fulfilling experience! You got this!