by Leah Landry, Precious Blood Volunteer Alumna 2017-2018
I think about my year as a Precious Blood Volunteer at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation every day. Maybe it’s because I have only been gone for 16 months, but I have a feeling that my volunteer year will continue to influence the life I create for myself. I can already see its effect on my life in D.C.
My experiences as a Precious Blood Volunteer have also made me more intentional about being a part of a community. Knowing so many folks in the Back of the Yards neighborhood during my volunteer year and seeing them when I went to the grocery store or drove down the block was a wonderful feeling. My experiences as a volunteer have made me see myself not as just an individual; I constantly try to build more community around me because I realize that’s where I am happiest.
Another impactful change from my volunteer year that I have brought with me to my life in D.C. is my new understanding of systemic racism and privilege and the role I play in that system. This new lens spurred me to go to the Texas-Mexico border in June and support the migrant families that were being released from immigration prisons to the Catholic Charities of Laredo Shelter. Racism is not something I can witness or hear about and just feel bad about anymore. I saw the effects of this widespread, insidious system in Chicago and I feel compelled to work with others to dismantle that system.
My life looks different than it did 16 months ago. I have a new home, a new city, a new community, and a new job. But every part of my life has been and will continue to be shaped by the people, experiences, and lessons I had as a Precious Blood Volunteer. And while it might be less challenging to live in ignorant bliss, I am grateful that my experiences as a Precious Blood Volunteer are sticking with me and helping me live a life that is more authentically in line with who I want to be.
[Leah Landry served as a Precious Blood Volunteer during the 2017-2018 year. She is a graduate of Notre Dame University and a recipient of the Yarrow Award from the Kroc Institute at Notre Dame for her commitment to service in peace and justice. She currently works for Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C.]