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 Lota Ofodile.
At the start of my volunteer commitment, I had expected to develop close interpersonal relationships with certain people such as my co-volunteers and housemates, especially considering the emphasis the program placed on community living. But there was no way for me to imagine the level of trust and friendship that blossomed throughout the course of this experience. I am most grateful for the KC volunteers who were just a delight to live with. John, Alia and Martin—thank you for your patience, openness and willingness to accept me for all my flaws and differences, and for making me feel comfortable enough to share my life with you. Fr. Garry Richmeier and Fr. Dick Bayuk who are essentially parents to us, to the point that the house always felt incomplete whenever any of them travelled. I am grateful to Tim Deveney for always being the guy to count on, who facilitated and fostered these relationships and made it easy for us to let our guards down and truly be one with each other. I am also thankful to the Kansas City based Jesuit Volunteers, especially Katie Love who contributed to making my time at KC CARE Clinic memorable and gratifying.
It’s hard to pick out specific experiences that stood out because the entire experience has been so remarkable. But generally, I would say:
- Family dinners – I don’t know if you have heard, but both Fr. Dick and Garry have culinary skills that I feel guilty for partaking in free of charge. But beyond that, it meant so much to be able to come home from work, especially after long days, and have a nice meal with everyone (including Juan whenever he could make it), and talk about our day, the news, share past memories, laugh, and just unwind.
- Spirituality night – Once a month, Tim would come over to the Gaspar house, and we would all reflect on whatever the theme and reading for that month was. It was an opportunity to hear each other out, as well as an avenue for open, honest and non-judgmental conversations about our personal beliefs and experiences. This tradition, in my opinion was key in maintaining the sense of community we had with each other.
- Working at the clinic – As an aspiring physician, I couldn’t be more grateful for my time at KC CARE. It is widely accepted that being a good physician is being able to care for people, not just as it concerns their physical health, but also seeing them as they are, and caring for their whole person. Everything about the clinic from our patient demographic to our commitment to serve the marginalized, and the character of my colleagues has definitely helped me develop my character in that light.
In so many ways! Most significant is my personal spiritual growth which was important to me coming in, and which this year has definitely enhanced. Besides more regular personal prayer and easy access to Mass, which is literally in my backyard (St Francis Xavier Parish), I have come to realize that faith without works is indeed dead. I have come to understand that almost any activity we engage in, can be a form of prayer as long as there is a God-consciousness to it. The intentional community living aspect of this experience has made me more conscious of my personal habits and attitudes, and I believe has made me more open and accommodating of others. Lastly, working at the clinic has exposed me to such a diverse group of people, which constantly challenges me to dismiss the prejudices I had about individuals with backgrounds and lifestyles that are different from mine. I am also convinced, now more than ever, that despite the many social ills and injustices in our world today, the only way to progress involves selflessness, mutual respect and seeing God in each of us.
On the whole, I can definitively say that this experience has been so enriching on so many levels. I certainly got more out of it than I predicted, and I am eternally grateful for all of it, and everyone, friends, family, colleagues and the entire Precious Blood family who have in one way or another, contributed to my experience. Peace and blessings!
Lota served as a Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Health Center from August 2017-June 2018.