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Lasallian Volunteers Keep Tradition Alive Past Graduation

by ANTHONY DePINHO, Staff Writer

For Lindsey Pamlayne, walking through the Manhattan College campus is more than just a visit to her alma mater.

It’s a return to the place that started a deep personal love for the Lasallian mission, that continued after graduation through the Lasallian Volunteers Program.

“I had planned to be a Lasallian Volunteer from my freshman year on,” Pamlayne said. “Right off the bat I kind of knew that this Lasallian charism, I was sold.”

The Lasallian Volunteers (LV) Program is a post-graduate volunteer program for adults who want to continue to serve in the Lasallian tradition. Volunteers live together in communities and serve in a wide range of capacities, with a focus on education and social work. According to their website, LV’s currently serve in 13 states across the country.

Pamlayne, an MC class of 2015 graduate, spent her first year in the program at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, teaching in the school and also getting involved in after-school programming. This year, her volunteer assignment is at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn as a teacher and a campus minister.

“I spend a lot of time with high school students, affirming what I would consider my vocation, which is something I definitely discovered at Manhattan. It’s who I am, it’s what I like, it’s what I do,” Pamlayne said.

Pamlayne suggested that the being assigned in different states and across several disciplines as a volunteer is meant to pose a personal challenge to each LV in the program.

“The idea is to challenge you to grow, and a big part of that is to get you out of your comfort zone… You come to the program with who you are, and then in a very Lasallian way, the program meets you where you are” Pamlanye said. “You come in with your specific gifts, talents, and abilities – whatever it is God gave you – and then the program says ‘Ok, this is what you do best, and this is where you can be challenged to be even better.’”

Mr. Andrew Weingarten, Director of Residence Life, served as an LV in Wisconsin for two years in a Lasallian school and an after-school educational center. A graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he mirrored Pamlayne’s sentiments in regard to this challenge when reflecting on his time as an LV.

“The schools and ministries served by LVs genuinely need the LVs and rely on them to complete high-level, professional work as teachers and administrators. They are often schools that don’t have many resources so the LVs have to wear many hats and serve in many roles,” Mr. Weingarten said via email.

But perhaps one of the biggest adjustments any LV has to make is to “living in community.” The volunteers do not live on their own, but instead together in a community with the Christian Brothers also assigned to those Lasallian locations. Many LV’s find this a unique and invaluable experience.

“Living in community was the most important part of the program for me, not just living with the volunteers, but also with the brothers,” Pamlayne said.

Weingarten lived with two fellow LV’s and two Christian Brothers, and found a great deal of support in this community.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life. The LVs and Christian Brothers who I lived with are like my family. We always talk and go to each other for advice even though our time together ended over six years ago…” Weingarten said. “The three pillars of the LV program are faith, service, and community and the program provides each volunteer with all the support they need in each of those areas.”

Megan McShane served as an LV for two years after graduating from Manhattan in 2013. The Long Island native served in St. Louis, Missouri, as a teacher in De La Salle Middle School. Although the community McShane lived in did not have any Christian Brothers, she too found the environment around her incredibly supportive.

“I found that Lasallian Volunteers was a good fit for me, where I could be in a different area, and experience new things, I could test out teaching, and have that support,” McShane said.

McShane said that the lack of Lasallian Brothers in her community did not diminish the experience in any way; she suggests that actually made it more unique.

“I’ve found that in my community experience, I’ve made some of my best friends,” McShane said. “It was nice having people to talk to who knew exactly what I was going through.”

One way McShane’s experience was unique was in terms of communal prayer time. The Christian Brothers follow a certain weekly prayer structure, but without any brothers there, McShane and her fellow LV’s had to adjust and find a new system that fit them best.

It required some creativity.

“We were able to be a lot more creative, which I really liked… everyone had their own style of prayer, and what prayer meant to them, which is something I really liked,” McShane said, citing their use of music, poetry, and other forms of media to create a new prayer environment in their community.

“That was not what I expected going into the program, but that’s something that they encourage you to do, to be creative with your prayer,” McShane said. “It doesn’t have to be reading out of a book.”

But regardless the specifics of each community, all the LV’s acknowledge that their communities were supportive units that form long-lasting bonds beyond the time spent volunteering together.

Once an LV has completed his or her one- or two-year commitment as a volunteer, several options are available to them once their time is up.

One option is to pursue a graduate degree through the Lasallian Scholars Program, which McShane is currently enrolled in. She is working towards her Master’s degree here at MC, living on campus and working for Campus Ministry and Social Action (CMSA).

Amanda Weingarten is an Academic Progress Specialist for the Office of the Registrar. A graduate of a Lasallian high school in Portland, Oregon, she spent two years as an LV in New York City, and after her years of being an LV were over, she came here to Manhattan College for graduate school.

“Joining the Lasallian Volunteer program opens many doors, professionally and personally. One of the many doors is the ability to apply for a scholarship to pay for your graduate school at one of the Lasallian colleges in the country,” Mrs. Weingarten said via email.

Graduate school is not the only available next step.

“Becoming an LV leads to a number of networking opportunities. Another door that has opened for some LVs has been the ability of their volunteer year(s) to lead to employment at their ministry or another ministry,” Mrs. Weingarten said.

But regardless where each volunteer ends up after their time has ended, they all seem to agree their experience as an LV was one they will remember for a long time, and one that fully ingrains in them what it means to be Lasallian.

McShane said, “Doing Lasallian Volunteers was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life… I knew I always wanted to be in education, but doing Lasallian Volunteers gave me the reason why. I liked understanding an area of the world, and understanding the social injustice there, and figuring out what you can do about it and reflecting on it.”

For Pamlayne, being an LV provided “opportunities to be my best self, but always in service of another person, and that’s what it meant to be Lasallian to me.” In her teacher’s bag she carries with her a book titled The Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher, based in Lasallian tradition, and a small key chain of Saint John Baptiste De La Salle.

But perhaps one of the biggest adjustments any LV has to make is to “living in community.” The volunteers do not live on their own, but instead together in a community with the Christian Brothers also assigned to those Lasallian locations. Many LV’s find this a unique and invaluable experience.

“Living in community was the most important part of the program for me, not just living with the volunteers, but also with the brothers,” Pamlayne said.

Weingarten lived with two fellow LV’s and two Christian Brothers, and found a great deal of support in this community.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life. The LVs and Christian Brothers who I lived with are like my family. We always talk and go to each other for advice even though our time together ended over six years ago…” Weingarten said. “The three pillars of the LV program are faith, service, and community and the program provides each volunteer with all the support they need in each of those areas.”

Megan McShane served as an LV for two years after graduating from Manhattan in 2013. The Long Island native served in St. Louis, Missouri, as a teacher in De La Salle Middle School. Although the community McShane lived in did not have any Christian Brothers, she too found the environment around her incredibly supportive.

“I found that Lasallian Volunteers was a good fit for me, where I could be in a different area, and experience new things, I could test out teaching, and have that support,” McShane said.

McShane said that the lack of Lasallian Brothers in her community did not diminish the experience in any way; she suggests that actually made it more unique.

“I’ve found that in my community experience, I’ve made some of my best friends,” McShane said. “It was nice having people to talk to who knew exactly what I was going through.”

One way McShane’s experience was unique was in terms of communal prayer time. The Christian Brothers follow a certain weekly prayer structure, but without any brothers there, McShane and her fellow LV’s had to adjust and find a new system that fit them best.

It required some creativity.

“We were able to be a lot more creative, which I really liked… everyone had their own style of prayer, and what prayer meant to them, which is something I really liked,” McShane said, citing their use of music, poetry, and other forms of media to create a new prayer environment in their community.

“That was not what I expected going into the program, but that’s something that they encourage you to do, to be creative with your prayer,” McShane said. “It doesn’t have to be reading out of a book.”

But regardless the specifics of each community, all the LV’s acknowledge that their communities were supportive units that form long-lasting bonds beyond the time spent volunteering together.

Once an LV has completed his or her one- or two-year commitment as a volunteer, several options are available to them once their time is up.

One option is to pursue a graduate degree through the Lasallian Scholars Program, which McShane is currently enrolled in. She is working towards her Master’s degree here at MC, living on campus and working for Campus Ministry and Social Action (CMSA).

Amanda Weingarten is an Academic Progress Specialist for the Office of the Registrar. A graduate of a Lasallian high school in Portland, Oregon, she spent two years as an LV in New York City, and after her years of being an LV were over, she came here to Manhattan College for graduate school.

“Joining the Lasallian Volunteer program opens many doors, professionally and personally. One of the many doors is the ability to apply for a scholarship to pay for your graduate school at one of the Lasallian colleges in the country,” Mrs. Weingarten said via email.

Graduate school is not the only available next step.

“Becoming an LV leads to a number of networking opportunities. Another door that has opened for some LVs has been the ability of their volunteer year(s) to lead to employment at their ministry or another ministry,” Mrs. Weingarten said.

But regardless where each volunteer ends up after their time has ended, they all seem to agree their experience as an LV was one they will remember for a long time, and one that fully ingrains in them what it means to be Lasallian.

McShane said, “Doing Lasallian Volunteers was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life… I knew I always wanted to be in education, but doing Lasallian Volunteers gave me the reason why. I liked understanding an area of the world, and understanding the social injustice there, and figuring out what you can do about it and reflecting on it.”

For Pamlayne, being an LV provided “opportunities to be my best self, but always in service of another person, and that’s what it meant to be Lasallian to me.” In her teacher’s bag she carries with her a book titled The Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher, based in Lasallian tradition, and a small key chain of Saint John Baptiste De La Salle.

About The Quadrangle (685 Articles)
The Quadrangle, founded in 1924, is the student-run newspaper of Manhattan College.
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