Precious Blood Volunteers Information Sessions for Fall 2020

 Join us for one of our upcoming information sessions! Learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers, postgraduate service, and how you can grow while walking with and learning from others.

Past events

 

God Chose You, Remember That!

Precious Blood Volunteers’ Orientation, July 2017, Leah Landry, John Lee, Hector Avitia, and Lota Ofodile


by Lota Ofodile, current Precious Blood Volunteer
There’s an old story that has been circulating in my family for years now, since I was born—the tale of how I got my name. Legend has it that my grandfather wanted to name me Raluchukwu (which means “Choose God” in my native language, Igbo) but that changed after a little conversation.
Interesting fact: I grew up being part of a small Catholic community called The Neocatechumenal Way. Each year, Andrea and his wife Francesca, a nice Italian missionary couple and the leaders of our group, would make their way down to Nigeria from Rome with a new priest and seminarian and stay for a few months. They lived right next door. (So just in case some of you, like most of my friends and colleagues at the clinic are all wondering how I am so comfortable living with Fr. Dick and Fr. Garry, it’s because I have lived with priests for years).
Andrea was in the country when I was born, and apparently, after he heard I was going to be called Raluchukwu, naturally he asked what it meant. Once he found out, he said, and I paraphrase, “You can’t choose God; he has already chosen you. You just have to remember that.” That was how Lota came about. My first name, Lotachukwu, means “Remember God”.
Funny story, right? And who knows if that’s exactly how it happened? It doesn’t matter now because I have owned it, and every time I think about that story I realize how God shows himself to us in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes, the most incredible experiences happen to us when we least expect it.
At exactly this time last year, I had just graduated college and had no idea where my life was headed. I was lost and afraid. I had no job lined up. I had applied to a few places, but nothing seemed tangible. I couldn’t apply to medical school because I owe my college some tuition and so I couldn’t get my transcripts. Being an international student, especially in Trump’s America, that was a very scary time. I had pretty much accepted that I might end up moving back to Nigeria. Then Precious Blood Volunteers happened.
Growing up in my very Catholic family, my grandfather made sure we knew that helping others, especially those less privileged than we are, was just as important as prayer and going to Mass. So naturally, after about 10 years of Jesuit secondary and college education garnished with volunteering experiences here and there, I toyed with the idea of a year of service. I had heard about the Catholic Volunteer Network from a close friend who was just completing her year of service, so I put up my profile. I wasn’t even sure which group or what location I was particularly interested in. The very next day, I got an email from Tim Deveney, the Precious Blood Volunteer Director. At first, I didn’t think too much of it, just a really good recruiter who knows his job, right? But whenever I reflect on my time here, I realize that this was just another instance of God choosing me.
When I think about my orientation week, one thing stands out: prophetic voices. I remember all of us being somewhat confused and asking Tim to clarify what “prophetic voices” meant, and it basically came down to the ways and people with which God tries to get through to us. At least that’s how I’ve chosen to interpret it. It’s the #47 bus driver who has to sit through long hours of driving the same route everyday with all kinds of interesting characters, being part of conversations she’d probably rather not have if she did not have to be there. Patience. It’s John Lee, my ex-housemate and fellow volunteer who picked out monthly challenges to make the most out of his experience and ended up starting a podcast that is currently on iTunes! (I have never met anyone so insistent and intentional about self-development) It’s one of my patients at the clinic who I’m pretty confident is/was part of a gang who came back just before leaving to say thank you for making him feel comfortable and cheering him up after he cried to me while I was taking his vitals. He was just like me! A person with feelings who cries when he gets emotional. Gratitude and oneness.
At the beginning, I was mostly concerned with what and how best I would be contributing to the people I would encounter during my service year. But this experience has turned out to be much more rewarding than I ever imagined. I have gotten to meet the most amazing set of people who are dedicated to living the best versions of themselves in the Precious Blood community. I have made tremendous strides in my personal spiritual journey. I spend most of my Sundays as part of the St. Francis Xavier Parish 10:30am Mass choir. And I will be coming out of this service year with a full-time job at the KC CARE Clinic, God willing.
I am so grateful that God has once again chosen me, to be part of this wonderful community and to have this life-changing experience. I sincerely hope and pray that all of us are more attentive to the ways in which God is continuously calling and choosing us to be better people.
(Oh, and just for the record, we stuck both with names. My birth certificate actually has Lotachukwu Raluchukwu written on it. I have two first names! LOL).
You can learn more about serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer by going to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org 
You can learn more about our placement at KC CARE Clinic by going to https://preciousbloodkc.org/kc-care-clinic/ 

“Investing in Your Future” or “Why Volunteer?”

by Tim Deveney, Director of Precious Blood Volunteers
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being part of a panel discussion hosted by Avila University’s Campus Ministry. The discussion centered around serving after graduation from college. It was a good discussion about our experiences as individuals and what we have learned from former volunteers. I was inspired by the stories and reflections I heard from the good people who were part of the panel.

Former Precious Blood Volunteer, Nate Balmert, made an investment in his future


As part of the panel we took questions from Avila students and Avila’s Campus Ministry staff. They were great questions about why people should volunteer after graduation, what benefits they will receive and the impact they will make on the lives of the people they serve.
One of the questions that came up during the discussion was about how to explain serving after graduation to parental units. I translated the question as “How in the world do you justify to your parents working for little to nothing after spending four years racking up massive student loans?” It’s a great question and a responsible young adult (and parent) should probably wrestle with this question. I jumped right in and offered three of my thoughts on the question.
The first part of my response was about what we offer to our volunteers. We help out with loan deferrals. Additionally, at the end of a full year of service we provide an education award payable to either a loan provider or institution of higher learning. These get our volunteers on a path towards paying off the loans and having freedom from some of that debt earlier in their adult lives.
The second part of my response was that the students discerning a volunteer experience are adults. At some point they have to make decisions on their own. We accept only people who are over 18 and generally accept people who have completed a college degree or advanced technical training. Basically we want young adults to serve with us and we are going to treat them as adults.
As an adult they are ultimately responsible for the eventual repayment of those loans. We encourage our potential volunteers to include the people they love and trust (that hopefully includes parents!) in discerning whether or not to volunteer after graduation. In the end the person has to make the covenant as a volunteer willingly.
After I said all of this I told the students in attendance to not worry too much about the first two and focus on what I’m about to say next.

Former Precious Blood Volunteers, Kara McNamara (left) and Leah Yeo (right), made investments in the type of people they became.


Here’s why: By serving as a volunteer after graduation the person is making an investment in their future. It’s an investment in their future as a human being. It’s a great time to invest their time in learning how to be a better follower of Christ, to be challenged and supported by others in community. It’s a wonderful time to walk with and develop relationships with people who are struggling on the margins of our society.
What a person does when they enter the “real” world informs how they live their lives afterwards so why not do it now?
Learn more about becoming a Precious Blood Volunteer at www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org.
To apply to invest in your future as a Precious Blood Volunteer go to www.preciousbloodkc.org/pbv-apply/.

Prepared for Impact

By Former Precious Blood Volunteer Ryan Cornelissen
One of the most identifiable themes of Advent is preparation. But preparation for what? The birth of Jesus? The Catholic tradition of Christmas includes the season of Advent, because we are to understand how the radical truth of Jesus’ message provokes conversion and change of behavior. In the readings for the First Week of Advent-Year A, both St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans and Matthew’s Gospel point to the urgency and necessity to prepare ourselves to best interact with the body of Christ in the world as Jesus did. Of course, it is important to be mindful of the actions and behaviors we should avoid—as Paul mentions in the second reading—as an effort to condone proper conduct. But, in my opinion, the Gospel reading from Matthew better points us to a lifestyle of being awake! Instead of merely avoiding attitudes and practices, the conscious choice to be awake promotes a proactive searching and preparation for the truth that we are to live out.
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Ryan Cornelissen in front of a Habitat for Humanity home

Ryan Cornelissen in front of a Habitat for Humanity home


As a Construction Site Supervisor for Habitat for Humanity in Boston, I lead volunteer groups through the process of building homes for those in need in the greater Boston area. In addition to working with volunteers, I have the pleasure of working alongside the families who are selected for each home to complete their 300 hours of “sweat-equity” on their future home (the equivalent of a down-payment on their house). Working alongside the mothers and fathers, I have the privilege of hearing stories of the reality of life before Habitat for these families.
This month, two new families were selected for the final duplex of a three duplex development in Roslindale, a Boston suburb. Felipe, one of the selected fathers, continues to share with me different pieces of the complex puzzle that is his life. Living in a 700 square foot apartment with his wife and two daughters (ages 3 and 8) was not exactly his dream. Felipe’s family is originally from the Dominican Republic, but he grew up in the United States. He works as a maintenance supervisor for a homeless shelter and rehabilitation support center in the Boston area, and when describing his job speaks of the importance of allowing people to share their stories and be listened to. Sitting there with my jaw wide open, I wished Felipe knew that his story is also worth listening to.
Earlier this week, up on the scaffold with Felipe installing siding on the gable wall of his future home, I decided to ask some simple questions to get to know him a bit better.
I asked him jokingly, “So, do you have any hobbies that you used to enjoy before having kids?” Felipe responded, “Can I be completely honest with you?” “Sure!” I said. “Well, my hobby has been preparing my family for where we are today,” Felipe stated.
Every minute that he has, Felipe is working at his job, and on-site with Habitat, to obtain a better life for his family. Before Habitat, every waking moment Felipe had outside of work he spent trying to learn about the daunting world of home ownership and financial responsibility. Felipe uses his time, effort and gifts for the benefit of his family; most days he doesn’t even eat lunch, so that his children can. Being connected to Habitat for Humanity is like a dream come true for Felipe and his wife. When they complete their hours, they will be the first members of their families to own a home.
The sense of urgency and attentiveness Felipe embodies as he puts the futures of his wife and daughters above his own is the type of preparation God has in mind for Advent. Christ is coming into the world as a human being, prepare! Each day God is coming to you in human form, will you be prepared? Will you give your best self no matter who is sent and what the circumstance? Felipe’s desire to give and serve his family is lived out each day as he works towards the goal of home ownership and a better future for his two daughters. The same goes for us that each day we are called to endlessly pursue a deeper relationship with God to better adjust our vision to Jesus’ vision and humbly expose our wounds and flaws in hopes of being held and healed by our loving God.
Just as Felipe gives of his life daily for his wife and daughters, we come to find that this journey is not about us, but instead the bringing about of God’s glory in the world. As you reflect this Advent, know that now is the time to prepare yourself and respond to God’s call for you to humbly carry the message out into the world.
To learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers go to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org or contact us at volunteers@preciousbloodkc.org
To apply to become a Precious Blood Volunteer go to https://preciousbloodkc.org/pbv-apply/
You can also read another one of Ryan’s reflections at https://preciousbloodkc.org/thanks-and-giving/ 

Welcome the 2014-2015 Precious Blood Volunteers

by Tim Deveney, Director of Precious Blood Volunteers
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(From L-R) Patricia Wood, Ryan Cornelissen, and Stephanie Schell

(From L-R) Patricia Wood, Ryan Cornelissen, and Stephanie Schell


Precious Blood Center in Liberty, Missouri hosted orientation for the new Precious Blood Volunteers for 2014-2015. During the week of July 20-25, we welcomed three new volunteers who will be serving this year.
Patricia Wood will be serving at St. Paul Church in Crownpoint, New Mexico. Pat comes to us with a wealth of experience during her time working as medical technician, serving at St. Joseph Indian School, and managing a farm in Kentucky and a ranch in Wyoming. She is from Owensboro, Kentucky and has three grown children. She will begin her service at the end of August.
Ryan Cornelissen is now working at Cristo Rey Kansas City High School. Ryan is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a degree in civil engineering and is from Londonderry, New Hampshire. He worked as a civil engineer for the New Hampshire Department of Public Transportation. At Cristo Rey, Ryan will be helping out with the stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program, campus ministry, and the music program.
Stephanie Schell is serving at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Stephanie matriculated from Creighton University with a degree in biology, and comes to us from Irving, Texas. Stephanie is our third volunteer to serve at Truman and will be working with the fresh foods market, the pet partners program, and assisting the nursing staff.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]