by Leah Landry, current Precious Blood Volunteer
The women of PBMR. Not a phrase you hear often at a Center started by four priests as a safe haven for young men. But over the past few years, the women in the neighborhood have become vital members of the PBMR community. On Saturday, February 3, these women gathered together to christen the new Mother Brunner House – the Women’s Center – with a mural that depicts the strength, serenity, and power of the women of PBMR.
The project included women from three programs at PBMR: the women of the advocacy group Community and Relatives of Illinois’ Incarcerated Children (CRIIC), the women from the Mothers’ Healing Circles who have lost children to incarceration and gun violence, and the Young Women’s Group, the newest program for women.
With the help and direction of PBMR’s teaching artist, Alberto Alaniz, the women gave suggestions of the words and images that come to mind when they think of the women of PBMR. The answers were as varied as the women themselves: unity, strength, love, hearts and stars, peace signs, mother and child. Then representatives from each program consulted with Alberto and together the group came up with the image for the wall. A few weeks later, over 20 women gathered at the Mother Brunner House to paint in the image.
You’d think a room full of 20 women, ranging from ages 6 to 80, painting a huge space with lots of color would be a chaotic scene, but the space had a peaceful, collaborative, and happy feel.
Mrs. Wingard, the eldest and wisest in the group and a member of CRIIC, shared her reflections on the day: “Just to remember that I put a paintbrush on the wall and Fr. Kelly and Julie and Sr. Donna are gonna walk through there and see the mural and I thought ‘Wow, I really feel a part of that’…And then to think about them getting the house and putting something on the wall that actually reaches out to the community. [The mural] shows families coming together and it’s not just one ethnicity. It’s not just black, not just white, not just latino: it’s everyone coming together for a common cause, for our children, for our community.”
Shumeka Taylor, a representative of the Young Women’s Group, said that putting the handprints and quotes on the wall was her favorite part. “The hands was so nice. We all who had been doing the part of the wall and engraving our names and a nice quote and that’s something that’s going to live forever in the house and I like that.” Shumeka added “From the older women to the young women, I truly enjoyed it. The older lady put the French braid in my hair while I painted the rest of the mural because they didn’t want paint to get in my 26 inches. I greatly appreciated everything that went on that day.”
Aldena Brown, a member of the Mothers’ Healing Circles, felt Helen Keller’s quote “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” captured the essence of the day. “That day of the painting felt good. Everyone working together, good laughs, music, and food! That moment was like nothing mattered. Painting that mural was everything, just being a part of something so meaningful. That gave my heart joy and peace in that moment. My mind drifted to a great place pushing that paintbrush. Yes, I must say that will be a day I’ll never forget! I was a part of that painting coming to life! I’m very thankful!”
The women of PBMR are leaving their legacy all over PBMR and the neighborhood, from the relationships they make to the steps they take towards their goals to the beautiful mural that will greet all the visitors of the Center. From now on, every person who walks through the doors of the Mother Brunner House will know that the women in the community are an integral part of PBMR: strong, unified, and here to stay.
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 Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation by going to https://preciousbloodkc.org/precious-blood-ministry-of-reconciliation/
During John Lee’s term of service as a Precious Blood Volunteer he spent a great deal of time organizing get togethers with the staff at Cristo Rey Kansas City High School where he served, setting up outings with the Precious Blood and Jesuit Volunteers, and initiated weekly sharing sessions with the Precious Blood Volunteer community in Kansas City. The experiences of helping connect people was something John wanted to continue after his service experience.
As he was wrapping up his term of service as a Precious Blood Volunteer at Cristo Rey in December he said he “brainstormed a bunch of ways I could pursue that goal and came across the idea of podcasting and felt that it could create that bridge!” He began writing, recording and producing a a podcast called “Starting With A Story.” “Starting With A Story” is a podcast that comes out on Monday mornings. John shares a wisdom story that covers topics from personal growth to life lessons to connecting with others. These stories are followed with John’s takeaways and specific parts of the story that resonate with him the most. The podcast finishes with a challenge to take on in order to improve and grow in your own lives based on the lessons from the story.
John will be completing his first season of “Starting with a Story” with the tenth episode. He is planning on starting work on Season 2 after a brief hiatus. His hope is to begin interviewing people about the stories they have shared with him.
You can listen to “Starting With A Story” at the podcast’s website, https://startingwithastory.com, or wherever you find your podcasts.
You can learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers at www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org.
The Kansas City (KC) CARE Health Center is an integral part of the health care delivery system in the Kansas City community. As it was formed to do in 1971, the Health Center provides basic health care services to people who cannot afford them and to those challenged with access to care. KC CARE helps keep the uninsured and underinsured healthy!
The KC CARE Health Center promotes health and wellness by providing quality Care, Access, Research and Education to the underserved and all people in our community.
As a Precious Blood Volunteer serving at KC CARE Health Center you will be working at their clinic located in Midtown Kansas City. You will have the opportunity to work alongside doctors, nurses and a dedicated staff taking care of individuals regardless of their ability to pay. This is a placement for you if you are looking for a career in medicine or are interested in public health.
You can learn more about KC CARE Health Center by going to their website.
Read a reflection by former Precious Blood Volunteer, Lota Ofodile, about her experience at KC CARE here.
Read a reflection by former Precious Blood Volunteer, Jade Bowman, about her experience at KC CARE here.
You can apply to serve as a Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Health Center by going to our “Apply” page.
by Kara McNamara, Precious Blood Volunteers Alumna
In my work for the past two years at an afterschool program for at-risk teenage boys, I got to see my students at their very best, at their screaming, fighting worst, and at every emotional stop in between. They certainly saw my full range of days too! I saw them go through hard times, saw them achieve great honors, saw them demonstrate resilience and ownership over their lives, saw them hurl ugly words at other children when they were hurting too badly to control themselves. I also, every so often, would have a luminous moment with a student in which I thought, This moment, right now, is exactly how God sees this child all of the time. I can think of an example in which one of the boys (who had been in foster care from a very young age and generally held himself apart from other people) celebrated his 18th birthday with us. We got him a cake with his name on it and sang to him and cheered his name (some of the students also tried to give birthday punches when I wasn’t looking). He was such a reserved, quiet young man, but in that moment, he couldn’t bite back his smile any longer, he couldn’t hold in the bright light inside him, and he let us see love and joy in his eyes. He quietly thanked everyone and mumbled something that sounded an awful lot like, “Love you guys.”
In looking at the transformation of this young man for those fleeting moments, I can remember thinking, This is why it’s so easy for God to love us. He must see us like this all of the time, with all of the potential for such good on full display.
In considering that moment, I was brought to thinking about all of the times that I’ve seen people at their best. Those moments are so inspiring, when you can see the purpose and joy living in a person. And I also thought about all the times I didn’t allow people to be their best or didn’t try to find their Creator in them. I missed so much beauty and joy in those missed opportunities!
In times of lack of unity and tension as we are seeing now on a large scale, we as Precious Blood people know that we must seek reconciliation, and as an initial step towards this, I am recommitting to seek Christ in those I meet, to encourage those around me to be the best version of themselves, and to recognize my own identity as God’s creation when I’m not at my best. If we could even begin to see each other as God sees us, our world could be a place of such healing and love, not division and hopelessness. If we can find that commonality, we can then begin to do the hard work that must come to address pain and inequality: standing in the margins, holding steadfast as peacemakers in the midst of tension, and starting the work of realizing God’s vision for the human family and environment.
After all, as Mother Teresa shared, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” I hope you’ll join me in working and praying for reconciliation and recognition of God’s presence in those around us.
Kara McNamara served as a Precious Blood Volunteer in Crownpoint, New Mexico in 2013. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton.
To learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers go to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply to become a Precious Blood Volunteer go to https://preciousbloodkc.org/pbv-apply/