by Tim Deveney, Director of Precious Blood Volunteers
2013 was a good year for the Precious Blood Volunteer program, and the hope is that 2014 will continue to build upon the good that happened. We have had the blessing of five volunteers serving during 2013 and an addition of a new volunteer at the beginning of 2014. The hope is that there will be several more starting this summer.
During 2013 Michael D’Netto, Leah Yeo, and Kara McNamara completed their terms of service as Precious Blood Volunteers. Michael was a well-respected member of the team at Truman Medical Center (TMC) in Kansas City. The staff at TMC raved about the work he did with patients and how he was able to get to know many of the patients he worked with. Leah Yeo completed her month of service in Crownpoint, New Mexico where she had served at St. Paul’s Church and was part of the organization and execution of a bone marrow donor registration drive. Also completing her term of service was Kara McNamara. Kara was a loving presence in Crownpoint, where, among many other duties, she substitute taught and helped launch a supplemental nutrition program at St. Bonaventure School in Thoreau, New Mexico.
Nora O’Connell and Nate Balmert continue to do well in their placements. Nora is working with the food pantry, community kitchen, and medicine dispensary at St. James Place in Kansas City. She also took on the task of organizing St. James’ Christmas party. Nate is working at TMC and has been an important part of the team there. Both have added a great deal of life to Gaspar Mission House.
The new year got off to a good start with Vanessa Steger beginning her term of service at Cristo Rey High School (see sidebar on page 11 for more information about Cristo Rey High School). Her term of service will be until the end of the Cristo Rey School Year. Vanessa is from the St. Louis area and graduated this fall from the University of Notre Dame with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and History. Since she is placed at Cristo Rey she is also living at Gaspar Mission House in Kansas City.
At Cristo Rey, Vanessa is working as an assistant teacher in laboratory classes, mentoring the Robotics Club, providing assistance for senior online science courses, and substitute teaching as necessary. She is also tutoring students in math and science, experimenting with the “Raspberry Pi” (a mini computer used to teach programming), and is working on improving Cristo Rey’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program.
Cristo Rey is a network of 26 Catholic high schools, started by the Jesuits, that serve youth from families who do not have access to high quality, college preparatory high schools. Students work one day a week at a business or non-profit agency where they gain professional experience and mentoring. In turn, these organizations pay for part of the students’ tuition. Cristo Rey Kansas City is sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.
Volunteer Vanessa Steger’s work as a volunteer continues the Kansas City Province’s history of support for this valuable ministry. The Kansas City Province has provided grants for Cristo Rey in the past and Fr. Matt Link, C.PP.S. served as a campus minister.
An area of focus that we are working on improving is the pieces for theological reflection for the volunteers. The volunteers have had a monthly reflection that incorporates Scripture readings, readings from Precious Blood resources, and reflection questions. They will also have the first ever mid-year retreat at the beginning of February.
This time of year also kicks off the third phase of the recruiting calendar. The first two phases involve visiting different Catholic college campuses and following up with those students that we met. Last year’s visits were to St. Louis University, Lewis, Creighton, Xavier, DePaul, Notre Dame, Catholic University, and Dayton. The third phase is following up for a second time with those students I met on the recruiting circuit, and calling and e-mailing individuals who showed interest in volunteering on the Catholic Volunteer Network website.
I am grateful for the continued support of the Precious Blood community. I am hoping that 2014 will build upon the successes of 2013 with the continued growth of our three current volunteers and a good number of quality volunteers for the next term.