Reflections from Precious Blood Volunteers: Alia Sisson
We asked the seven 2017-2018 Precious Blood Volunteers to answer three questions:
- What is/are some relationship(s) that have stood out for you during your time as a Precious Blood Volunteer?
- What are some of the experiences that have stood out for you during your time as a Precious Blood Volunteer?
- How have you grown during your time as a Precious Blood Volunteer?
Below are the answers from former Precious Blood Volunteer Alia Sisson.
I’d like to start out saying I haven’t had a bad relationship my entire time here, which is pretty wild considering how many people I’ve interacted with. From my RCIA Team at St. Francis Xavier, to my bus 55 driver, to certain clients I’ve gained a rapport with, every relationship no matter how small has been enriching to my experience in some way.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special shout out to everyone I lived with here in Kansas City. Going to Mass almost every morning with Juan has been amazing. I loved hearing stories of Father Dick’s childhood in Wisconsin, and enjoying Father Garry’s jokes and 5-star cooking. All of the volunteers will always hold a special place in my heart. We have bonded on different levels but I can honestly say I appreciate everyone I’ve shared this experience with so much! I hope to stay in touch with the Chicago crew, and Martin, John, Lota (and Tim!) I hope will be lifelong friends.
Stand out experiences for me have all revolved around the people I most care about here. First, I was honored to be invited to Tim’s mother’s home in St. Louis for Thanksgiving and to share that singular experience with Tim’s family and Martin. More fond memories were having the Jesuit Volunteers over for dinner, the farewell parties for John and Martin, and celebrating my confirmation, to name a few. I also enjoyed our spirituality nights, retreats, and trip to Chicago. Some of my favorite memories from Kansas City are when my parents and best friend from college visited. It was so much fun to show them the city that I have grown to love (and of course stuff them with that famous Kansas City barbeque). Any time we get off our devices, break bread, and share our spirits makes me very happy.
I have been here just enough time to achieve a pleasant rhythm and routine without it becoming monotonous. Knowing I was going to be at Legal Aid for 9 months gave me the chance to dig deep and do some real work. Over this time span, I could see some of the fruits of my labor, while not getting so comfortable as to lose my spark. Not every day is fireworks and rainbows, but finding the joy in sometimes banal tasks is a big part of being a good Christian. I don’t have to be constantly entertained to do a good job and help people, and that has been a good lesson for me as I prepare for full time work for the next 40-ish years.
My job has also allowed me to grow in compassion and empathy. Asking women about the worse physical violence they have ever experienced is incredibly hard, but also having these women be so vulnerable and offer their stories really connected me to them. Through this experience I have grown to see that everyone suffers, but some suffer far more trauma than others. It made me realize how fortunate I have been in my life and how much I want to help others who have experienced appalling abuse.
Through my experience as a Precious Blood Volunteer I have also grown spiritually. Going through RCIA from October through January really helped me focus in on what it is I love about the Roman Catholic faith. I have learned that I am more traditional in my faith than many people I am surrounded by, and that is ok because there is no one right way to do it. As Catholicism is the universal church, it has enough room for licit diversity of thought and worship. I’ve grown closer to God through daily mass, prayer, and with the relationships I’ve forged with people here. Every day I try to invite God’s Holy Spirit into my heart and get out of the way of my own spiritual progress. While far from perfect, without a doubt I am leaving this experience as a changed and better woman.
Alia served as a Precious Blood Volunteer at Legal Aid of Western Missouri from September 2017-June 2018.