When our daughter first told us that she was planning on volunteering, we were at first concerned with her financial position; how was she going to pay for her student loans, what were her living expenses going to be, how was she going to financially support herself. As those initial questions were answered our concern then became more personal such as what was her new community like, what were her work conditions going to be and what about her safety. I must state here that Brother Jim answered all of our concerns and went out of his way to make us feel comfortable and at peace with her decision.
During orientation, Brother Jim gave us a personal “guided tour” of her work site and living conditions. Meeting the volunteer community and their families gave us a sense of comfort and like our daughter, the other volunteers were committed to this new venture. The beautiful mass and following prayer service at the Syracuse house put in perspective the enormous gift that Jeannette was giving as a volunteer. Throughout the year, we began to see a subtle yet distinct change in our daughter. Her dedication to her work, community and housemates was of great importance and she truly blossomed in spirit and in heart. She grew to love the children she worked with and found meaning and substance in her work. The retreats and getaways were particular highlights that she truly enjoyed.
I was proud to see her become a part of something so much bigger than herself and was overjoyed to see her capacity to love grow to such an extent. The bonds of her new family can never be broken and will always be a source of love for her. It seems that in her year of volunteering, she received a far greater gift than she gave, and I would highly recommend this gift to others.