For each Jasper here at Manhattan College, there is some kind of vision for the future. Most stuents’ post-graduation plans involve going right into their career of choice or attending graduate school. Life might keep them here in New York, or it may take them somewhere completely different so they can pursue their dreams.
Whether they have discovered it yet or not, all students have a passion, and for some students that passion is to selflessly give to others. Luckily, these students have the opportunity to do exactly that through the Lasallian Volunteer Program.
This program of the De La Salle Christian Brothers was founded in 1988 with a mission to administer devoted and qualified volunteers to serve the poor. Graduate volunteers dedicate themselves to one or more years of service in schools or agencies in various states across the country.
Current senior Lindsey Pamlanye is planning on becoming a Lasallian Volunteer (LV) in San Francisco. She admits that prior to attending college, she was unaware of who the Christian brothers were and had never even heard the word “Lasallian” before, but coming to Manhattan College was what opened doors for her.
Her first education class with Brother Gus brought her to the realization that she was best at working with students, and she credits most of her growth to the brothers who taught her about education and the importance of giving.
“Lasallians are about coming together and doing what you do best, the best you can, so you can help do something or help some person who needs what only you can give,” Pamlanye said.
After four years of being inspired by the stories of current volunteers and also participating in a L.O.V.E. trip (Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience) to a volunteer site, Pamlanye is itching to become a part of the program. She says the Lasallian volunteer community could not get rid of her if they tried.
“The Lasallian connection is very real, and it’s not something you can just let go of,” she said. “I would be happy working for students within this community, fueled by the Lasallian mission, for I think a long, long time. In the end, I just want to be a really good teacher for kids who otherwise might not have one, because they deserve it.”
Carlos Orbe, who graduated from MC last spring, is in his first year of volunteering in Portland, Ore. He serves as the IT and media representative at De La Salle North Catholic High School, and his duties will progress into tutoring, substituting and coaching.
“Many people tend to overlook the beauty that life has to offer,” Orbe explained. “My hope, as a volunteer, is to take some of the load off of others so they can experience all the things that I have come to love about life.”
Although the application process was long and his current work can be challenging, Orbe says joining the program was one of the best decisions of his life.
“Seeing these kids having to beat the odds on a daily basis and show up to school has truly changed me internally,” he said when discussing the realizations he has made while volunteering.
“We tend to overlook the basic gifts we are blessed with daily when we walk the quad, take the train downtown and eat the mediocrity of Locke’s. But these kids would kill for an opportunity of this nature to show the talents they have and eat the food that we are given in surplus amounts.”
Ivy Seraphin is another MC alum from the class of 2014 who has been working as an LV in Racine, Wis. for the past month. She offers support to both middle school and high school students at the John XXIII Educational Center.
“When I found out I was placed in Racine, I was really nervous,” she said. “I’ve never lived in the Midwest before this and the thought of being a plane ride away from my family and friends was rather upsetting for me. But, the Lasallian Volunteer program tries to place you at sites where you are best suited and with my interests and background in psychology, it seemed perfect that I would be facilitating support groups with middle schoolers.”
Seraphin said the experience has been very positive for her so far and she looks forward to the rest of her time there.
Megan McShane, class of 2013, is a current LV at a school in St. Louis, Mo. She explained that the application process was very intense, involving difficult questions and two interviews. Moving to St. Louis was also a severe culture shock for her and she initially felt very isolated and scared, but has grown to love it.
“I have had a kid tell me that I helped him understand how to control his anger and helped him grow up. He said I was one of the first teachers who really cared about him. That was pretty powerful,” McShane said.
Volunteering has also made her aware of the importance of education, and she plans on working in education with students in low-income areas.
Clare O’Connell, also from the class of 2013, serves as a math tutor at De LaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minn., and has had revelations very similar to McShane’s.
“Living in a community has taught me a lot about who I am and how I communicate with others. Living in a faith-based community and serving at a Catholic high school has helped me grow tremendously in my faith,” O’Connell said.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and want to find out more, visit lasallianvolunteers.org or http://manhattan.edu/news/lasallian-volunteers-serve to read more testimonials from other MC alumni.