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 Martin Echtler.
The former US-Basketball star Michael Jordan said back in the days “I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying”. I read this quote at the wall of the dining room at the Bishop Sullivan Center and it inspired and accompanied me during my time as a Precious Blood Volunteer. It stands for a lot of experiences I had during my time in Kansas City.
The Precious Blood community received me with open arms and with an unbelievable kindness. The life within the flat-sharing community at the Gaspar Mission House with Father Garry, Father Dick, Juan, my fellow Volunteers Lota, Alia and John (and not to forget our dog Buddy) was marked by mutual respect, helpfulness and friendship. In addition, I had the chance to build up a lot of relationships at my volunteer placement, the Bishop Sullivan Center. Above all, I need to name Doug, the director of the Center, who took care of me in a very kind way. He showed me how to build up relationships with my co-workers and also the clients and visitors of the Center. But even more, he connected me to people who like German culture, especially soccer. It ended up that we met every Saturday morning to watch the matches with a lot of awesome people. But all these would have never been possible without Tim. He was always there as a helper, motivator, inspiration and friend. We all walked a part of our way through this life together and it doesn’t matter what will happen in the future – you’ll all stay in my heart as friends & I hope we’ll meet us again someday!
This climate of friendship helped me to try – try to help people. At the Bishop Sullivan Center I had the chance to work in different fields of social support. A central part was the food pantry, where people get a certain amount of groceries depending from the family size every month. A further part was the soup kitchen which serves hot meals every night from Monday till Friday to people in need. Everybody is welcome to come, chat and eat there. My time at the pantry and the kitchen was not only an inspiration – it showed me a deeper value of food. Our daily bread is not a matter of course! But I have not started to see only food from another perspective. During my work with assistance-applications it concerned also other basic needs like water, electricity and gas. I saw people struggle with their daily life in a tough way. To help these people was not always easy, because I had to deal with different limitations. Sometimes I was not able to provide the kind of help I wanted to and this can be a heartbreaking experience. But I also learned that “help” doesn’t always mean to provide physical goods – it means sometimes just to be there and listen. This awareness had a sustainable impact on me. It filled my heart with great pleasure to walk with people in need…even if it were only a few steps!
My time as Precious Blood Volunteer was not limited in building up friendships and trying to help people – it also helped me trying myself to grow. It’s not easy to bring these into words, because I see my personal growth during my Volunteer time as a mosaic, a composition of many smaller and bigger experiences which influenced me in a variety of different ways. Retrospective I’m sure about that conversations to people had the largest impact on me. Ordinary and extraordinary talks with a variety of different people about life, God and religion, family, friends, work, culture, problems, politics, sports & many other topics showed me a great number of different perspectives and made my life so much richer.
In the end I want to come back to the quote of the beginning. My time as a Precious Blood Volunteer made me more courageous to try. Trying is so important, because without trying we will never know about so many things. Of course there’s always a risk to fail, but a life without risks is not possible – so let’s try. Again and again and again – I’m sure we won’t fail!
Martin served as a Precious Blood Volunteer at the Bishop Sullivan Center from September 2017-February 2018.