by Nora O’Connell, Precious Blood Volunteer
I am passionate about God. I am passionate about calling my parents every day just to say “Hi.” I am passionate about never forgetting friends’ birthdays. I am passionate about saying thank you. I am passionate about finding a cure for cancer. I am passionate about Grumpy Cat. I am passionate about listening. I am passionate about educating children. I am passionate about helping others. I am passionate about sports. I am passionate about smiling. I have so many passions that I can’t even list them all here.
I have always known that I wanted to pursue a career that followed my passions. I have always wanted my future career to be something that I loved every single day. Easier said than done—unless I can get paid to call and annoy my mother every day!
When I first made the decision to participate in a post-grad service program, I knew that it would give me the opportunity to pursue one of my passions without fully committing to a line of work, while also opening my eyes to new opportunities and things that I had never experienced before. I have always known that I wanted to learn more about and work with the resources available that can help the poor and marginalized in large cities.
Serving at St. James Place in midtown Kansas City has helped me to make this passion a reality. I spend mornings helping our food pantry operate and evenings serving dinner in our community kitchen. I spend afternoons assigning Christmas families to donors and helping clients with their short term medical needs as a Kansas City Medicine Cabinet caseworker. No matter what role I am playing, I always have the opportunity to talk to people and listen to their story. Every day is a constant reminder to meet people where they are at in life.
I knew when I started this program that my service at St. James Place wouldn’t fulfill all of the needs in my heart. There were so many things I wanted to do and so many people I wanted to help, which led me to another volunteer experience. I spend my Wednesday evenings and some Saturday mornings at Gilda’s Club, which is a cancer support community in Kansas City. I help them clean the clubhouse, set up for Wednesday potluck dinners, and answer the door among other things. I may not be able to find the cure to cancer myself, even though that is one of my passions, but through this organization I have been able to walk with others who have been affected by cancer in various ways. I have been able to just talk and be myself with the members of Gilda’s Club, and most of the time these people make my day so much brighter, even more than the little effect I could possibly have on one of them.
I have learned so much by spending my time at these two organizations. I see so much potential in both of them, and am honored that I get to be a part of the big picture. Most of the people I encounter every day have more faith in their left hand than I do in my whole body. Every day I am reminded of how much I see God in these two places, and the importance of truly being intentionally present to all that we serve.
Being a part of the Precious Blood Volunteers has helped me to learn how to see my passions and translate them into every day work. I may not be able to put that I am passionate about hugs on a resume, but I can translate my strong feelings about them into other things and show my passion in other ways. Each person I have met here has taught me some sort of lesson about my future and myself—even if I don’t know exactly what it is or what it will be.
I know that throughout the course of my life, some passions will change and some will grow stronger. Following your passions can be a challenge, but if they’re important it’s worth it. Remember, there’s always something to smile about!
Nora O’Connell graduated in 2013 from the University of Dayton. She lives at Gaspar Mission House in Kansas City.
To learn more about becoming a Precious Blood Volunteer you can visit our website www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org.
If you’d like to learn more about St. James Place and the Bishop Sullivan Center you can go to their website www.bishopsullivan.org.