FrancisCorps | Syracuse, NY

Worried how far he was going to be – Janet and Greg Differding

What were you initial feelings when your son/daughter mentioned they were thinking about doing a year of volunteering?

Being his father and financially minded, I thought he was crazy! I did not know how he was going to start paying back his loans while doing a year of service that was not putting enough money in his pocket.  I thought he should have been looking for a job or looking to go back to school so he would be closer to starting his “real life.” I was not convinced it was the best option.    As his mother, I was ok with the idea as I knew he enjoyed this type of work but was a little worried as well with those natural motherly instincts.

What worries, concerns or reservations if any, did you have with your child’s decision about volunteering?

We did have reservations, as to why he wanted to pursue a volunteering position.   The number one was the money aspect and how he was going to support himself.  Secondly we were worried how far he was going to be from us.   Was it safe where he was, who would be there if he needed help, and what he was going to be doing were all questions that floated through our heads.   It is very hard on a parent to have a child in a whole different country knowing they are miles away.   We were hesitant about this issues but not too worried knowing our son is a very independent, caring and concerned individual.  This is a passion of his and letting him experience it first hand was what he needed to do for him, which helped a little for us as well.

How did your feelings change over the course of your son’s/daughter’s year of service?

For me his mother there was a change, but not a huge change as our son has always been this person who needs to be involved in helping others or making a difference. The thought of this brings tears to our eyes to see the love for both our son and those he worked with.

As his father, hearing the stories and seeing his work firsthand when we visited, really helped calm my initial feelings and convinced me this was important to Jordan.  I could see that he was doing something valuable with his life and not just wasting his time like my initial feelings had told me.  I was very happy with his decision.

What kind of impact do you think a year of service had on your son/daughter?

To us it was truly a unique learning experience as we were able see him interacting within a new culture, trying new food, speaking new languages and meeting new people. Our son learned to work as part of a team with wonderful and educated volunteers through a faith based organization.  He became very close to those around him and developed his own spiritual being.

Why would you/would you not recommend a year of service to a young adult like your son/daughter?

As a parent of a volunteer I would highly recommend to anyone with a passion and heart to serve others, to find an organization such as the FrancisCorps.  As parents we feel we are very fortunate to have our son who has found a way to give back to others.   Being with and listening to him talk, we have witness his maturity and a growth in his spiritually.  He has this unique sense of accomplishment in his life as we do as well because he has shared this journey with us.

As a parent we would not recommend volunteering if this is not comfortable to you or do not like the fact of volunteering.  We believe it is not for the selfish, short tempered or impatient person.   Volunteering is not for the glory seeker or gaining publicity as there can be numerous frustrations as we have experienced through the eyes of our son. Volunteering is work without pay but every potential volunteer will benefit by knowing, seeing and remembering the difference they can make for others.

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