Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

Volunteer Profiles

Sharon Zandell, Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Mary’s Home, Chicago

The Little Sisters care for the elderly throughout the world. St Mary’s Home is located in the DePaul/Lakeview area of Chicago. The facility includes apartments for ambulatory seniors and rooms in which nursing care is provided. My main contacts are the Volunteer Coordinator and the Activities Director. This is my second IVC assignment.

On my assigned days, I usually arrive before 8a and assist serving breakfast, clearing dishes from the table and refreshing the tea/sugar containers. On Wednesday, after breakfast, I help with vegetable peeling and work alongside volunteers from other organizations. After 11a Mass, I assist with meal service for the noon meal (“dinner”), the main meal of the day.

In the afternoon and on Friday mornings, I assist with the Activity program. This includes a variety of mental orientation (word/number games), entertainment (movies, Bingo), and arts and crafts. I particularly enjoy working with the residents in making rosaries, jewelry, drawing, and paper craft. Rosaries are sent to missions in various countries. Crafts are used to decorate the dining room, hallways and residents’ rooms. For Christmas, we made paper wreaths and ornaments.

I also have the opportunity to “teach” an art class once a week. I particularly like to design and make bead jewelry with the residents. I usually make 2-3 samples to show to them and then help them to choose the color and combination of beads they want to make an individualized necklace and/or bracelet. I also like to introduce them to different drawing techniques, such as, acrylic pour, paper mosaics and dot drawings. Several residents have shared their work with family/friends.

I enjoy helping the residents at mealtime and with various activities. My background as a registered nurse makes it easy to determine the type of physical and/or mental assistance each one needs. Residents and staff welcome me and greet me by my name. I also appreciate being in a religious environment and the opportunity to attend Mass during the week.

Mike Reidy, Cristo Rey St. Martin High School, Waukegan, IL

Services Provided

I provide support to the department that provides the work opportunities to the students. That support consists of the following:

Grading time cards which are reports provided by the students after each time they work. The grading is based on the level of reflection on their experience and the writing. We also report the number and students who are not submitting their reports on time.

Coaching those students who are either struggling at their current work assignment or who have been fired from their assignment. We use the book Seven Habits of Highly Successful Teens as an outline for these talks. Each session reviews a chapter in the book and the student makes a presentation on what they have learned at the end of the coaching period.

Coaching students who are successful at their work assignments but are late on submitting time cards. They are required to meet with me after their work assignment to write and submit their time card. Other volunteers assist me in doing this.

Conducting brief seminars in the morning before they go to work. I have conducted seminars on time management, ethics and relaxation techniques. I work with one of the full-time coaches on scheduling these.

Lessons Learned/Perspectives Gained

I have gained an appreciation of the values & behavior that Cristo Rey St. Martin and the work study department is trying to teach these kids. I wish I had some of this when I was in high school. I also appreciate the support of the families and some of the employers provide to these young adults. It really does take a village to get this generation up out of poverty.

As I go through the 7 Habits book and the ‘Rubric’ of Cristo Rey, I understand that I have to apply these to my life in order to effectively coach these kids. Although scoundrels do sometimes succeed, they usually don’t prevail and in the long run, bring disgrace to their families and friends.

I have also been impressed with the other IVC volunteers’ and the variety of service they provide. These people are like a small army, battling the racist, materialistic, violent, cruel forces of this world and keeping their communities from completely falling apart and without much public recognition.