2020-2021 Precious Blood Volunteer, Allison Spraul
Allison Spraul will serve at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri, and live in community at Jerusalem Farm. She grew up in the town of Effingham in central Illinois between St. Louis and Indianapolis. She attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Catholic Social Tradition.
Why do you want to volunteer?
“I want to volunteer because I want a year of learning the kind of skills that I cannot learn in a classroom or from a textbook that will make me a more empathetic physician. Skills like connection, accompaniment, cultural competence, and sensitivity, in addition to clinical experience, will make me a better doctor going forward.”
Why do you want to volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteers?
“I want to volunteer with Precious Blood because of their focus on accompaniment and service alongside. I want to do what I can to help bring in those on the margins.”
What are you looking forward to about your volunteer experience?
“I am looking forward to building community with those I am working with and with my fellow volunteers, as well as the chance to put my faith into real-world practice.”
Learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers at preciousbloodvolunteers.org.
Precious Blood Volunteers is excited to announce that four new volunteers will serve with us for the 2020-2021 volunteer cycle. We will again collaborate with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago with one volunteer and we will also continue our commitment to Kansas City with two volunteers. One of them will be serving at KC CARE Health Center, and another will be splitting his time between Cristo Rey and the Bishop Sullivan Center.
New for the program, our Kansas City volunteers will live in community at Jerusalem Farm in Northeast Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Province and Jerusalem Farm have a longstanding relationship and this partnership will be deepened and strengthened because of this arrangement. In previous years, our volunteers lived in community at Gaspar Mission House in Kansas City. We decided to have them live in a different community setting to maintain a safer environment for the priests living at Gaspar Mission House since we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Also new for this year, we are thrilled to announce a new placement at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco! Our volunteer at Most Holy Redeemer will be living in community with Father Matt Link, C.PP.S. Father Matt has been gracious in extending a welcome to our volunteer there.
We give thanks to God for this wonderful group of young people! Over the next few days, we will be introducing them on the Kansas City Province website and on social media. Orientation is starting this Saturday, July 25! Please keep them in your prayers throughout the year.
by Koby Buth, Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Heath Center
Growing up, I regularly attended youth ministry events titled something along the lines of, “Be a Hero for Jesus!” The message I heard at those events usually went something like this: “Jesus calls us to be moral exemplars in society. We need to stand out from our peers in a way that points to Christ and brings others to Him. By performing extraordinary acts with extraordinary courage, we will gather attention from society that we will then be able to redirect to Jesus.”
Part of the use of the word “Hero” was, of course, a means of appealing to our ten-year-old imagination: we could be Superman or Wonder Woman. I did not consider, however, how this appeals to our modern obsession with individualism, until I first heard the song “Helplessness Blues” by the band Fleet Foxes. As I contemplated the lyrics over time, the first verse has always been the most striking to me:
I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes,
unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery
serving something beyond me
While that verse could be interpreted as critiquing the Participation Trophy Phenomenon, I think it more clearly speaks to the desire to contribute in small, cooperative ways to a larger, more meaningful society. Those youth ministry events encourage great individual acts, not small, perhaps menial, acts that add up to something greater than we could do individually. I think that our youth ministers did not want to encourage those particular acts, primarily because they can feel menial. An accountant for a homeless shelter may not feel like she’s contributing much to the world, but that shelter would not exist for very long without her, leading to fewer people getting the services they need.
This volunteer year, I have often felt like a “cog in some great machinery,” which has in some ways left me a little unsatisfied. I have felt the need to begin some great project which will overhaul the way the clinic works and drastically improve the care for our patients. I would love to say that desire comes solely from the care I feel for our patients, but I think some of it comes from a desire to stand out from the crowd—to be a Hero for Jesus. In college, we often had speakers from small organizations come and speak about what caused them to start a nonprofit that helps with human trafficking or world hunger. I often wondered if, instead of having many small organizations dedicated to eradicating a huge social issue like human trafficking, having a few large ones would be able to mobilize more people and more resources. I wondered if people’s desire to be a Hero for Jesus by starting their own organization was a less efficient way of decreasing hunger and slavery in our world than joining a pre- existing one and adding their skills and talents to an already established nonprofit.
People will often say that the desire to be a cog in a machine is fueled by complacency. But I am learning to see the benefits to it. It allows good, helpful organiations to function smoothly. It helps you make significant changes in the world without burning yourself out hunting for the next great idea.
A few months ago, some street evangelists stopped Brooke (my wife, also a Precious Blood Volunteer) and I on our walk home and asked when we were saved. I thought, I don’t think salvation is a one-time thing, I think it’s a process, which is why Paul tells us “work out your salvation.” But, because I knew I would make my wife uncomfortable confronting street evange- lists, I said, “When I was around six.” He then asked, “Does your salvation make you want to go out and evangelize?” My answer was something along the lines of, “Actually, I feel like I usually want to show people what Christ is like rather than telling them.” We then told each other to have a good day and parted ways. These people were looking for big ways to serve Christ, which is good, but I’m trying to find consolation in doing small things, routine things to serve Christ, other people, and the broader creation.
Koby is a current Precious Blood Volunteer serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
To learn more about becoming a Precious Blood Volunteer go to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org
Koby Buth with a patient at KC CARE Health Center
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of the New Wine Press.