Your beautiful, messy, complicated story matters, tell it.
-Kelly Rae Roberts, artist and former social worker
During a recent reflection with the volunteers, a question was posed, “If you knew when your last day on earth would be, what would you choose to do?” Not surprisingly, all of the responses included time with close family and friends, but one response was slightly more nuanced. Current volunteer, Sara Snowden, added that she would like to spend time sharing stories with her family. This single additional detail carries much meaning. It is a reminder that one of the most sacred things we can share with others is our story.
During the 2019-2020 closing ceremony, recent alum Jenna Vrable, stepped out of her comfort zone to share personal reflections of her time with Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry, a slice of her story. She allowed us to glimpse some of the healing that has taken place within her as a result of her time serving in a loving community.
I would just like to start by saying that the idea of writing a closing reflection, of attempting to sum up the life-changing transformation that I’ve been through in the last year, is an incredibly hard task. Do I choose to write about the incredible people that I’ve met at the Care-A-Van who have taught me to bravely face some of the issues that our society would much rather ignore and shown me the value of consistently showing up for our patients? Or do I write about the patients themselves who demonstrate resilience, hospitality, and a strong value of community despite the trauma of unplanned or unwilling immigration? Should I focus on my incredible community members who spent the year using their unique talents and gifts to bless our patients and communities with their genuine presence and accompaniment? Or should I use this space to talk about the ways that we’ve grown in practicing God’s justice through attempting to acknowledge privilege, having open dialogue about the pervasive and oppressive nature of racism, and studying the ways in which we have intentionally barred some from generational wealth and come to accept a society where some can attend to their basic needs and others cannot? While all of these things are true and important pieces of the volunteer experience, there’s a small and hesitant voice in the back of my mind telling me that I should do the brave thing and choose to talk about me. So, I think I might try that if that’s okay with everyone…
…So here I am, being courageous and brave, telling you my story and my struggle of making the sisters’ charism of living Compassionately, receiving and offering Healing, and sharing in Liberation a deeply personal journey. Though I am still fearful and imperfect you all have given me a hope that can never be taken away: a hope that I might be loved so deeply that I am forever changed and that I can be brave enough to share my whole self with the people who love me. Thank you all for seeing me, listening to me, loving me, and telling me that I am enough, you have truly changed me for the better.
For BSVM Ministry Volunteers, their life stories are forever changed by their year of service. As with Jenna, they walk away with gifts that they could never have imagined receiving. They go on to share their stories in many different ways, and each time they share, these gifts are reaffirmed.
The Sisters of Bon Secours, BSVM staff, and supporters of BSVM want to continue to create the opportunity for young adults to be touched by God’s grace through service. We want to ensure that future BSVM alums may reflect back on their time with Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry and see God’s reflection in themselves and in all those with whom they were in relationship. Will you help us make this possible?
As this is a difficult time for many, including one of financial hardship, we humbly ask you to consider how you may journey with BSVM. If you are able to financially support us, we are deeply grateful. If that is not possible, your prayers and personal connections with us (via social media or other online opportunities) are also much appreciated. As we walk these uncertain times together, know that Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry holds you in our prayers, as well.
You may donate through this link or Venmo @bonsecoursvolunteer
May God bless you and your loved ones during this sacred season,
Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry