A year of service and spiritual formation is filled with small, meaningful encounters. We recognize the privilege of entering communities that are vibrant and full of light, power, beauty, and pain, and over the course of a year, our Ministry Volunteers engage the communities of West Baltimore and East Richmond through relationships they build with their neighbors, colleagues, patients, students, and friends.
Read about one such small but memorable moment from alumna Rachel Mattos (BSVM 2010-2011) who was placed at the Bon Secours Family Support Center in Baltimore, MD. This reflection was first published in the Bon Secours Beacon (now, The Companion), Spring 2011, Issue 11. What small sign of unity and support can you show in your life today?
The Daily Gifts of Service
By Rachel Mattos, BSVM 2010-2011
A graduate of St. Joseph’s University
Last week I was having a bad morning. I was tired, grouchy, and very much focused on all the personal worries racing through my head. I was rushing around, preparing for the arrival of the children to the Family Support Center where I serve. While I bustled down the hall, I caught a glimpse of one of our GED students who had arrived early with her 3 year old son, who is a regular in the child development room. His eyes were filled with tears and his mom looked frustrated. I asked him what was wrong, and he just looked at his lap, tears dripping down his face. His mom told me that he had been acting up that morning, hit his brother, and wet his pants all before 8am. I took him by the hand to give his mom a break.
We went and sat down together and talked. We talked about his rough morning and how it was O.K. to be sad. We talked about turning our day around and about how having a bad morning doesn’t mean we have to have a bad day. He climbed onto my lap and gave me a big hug. His tears had dried up and he had a big smile on his face.
By the end of our talk, I felt better too. He had taken me out of myself and out of my worries. That morning with him says so much to me about the gifs of service that I’m receiving this year. I came into the program with the purpose of being ‘good help’ to those in the Sowebo [Southwest Baltimore] community, but often find myself the recipient of kindness from those I serve. By allowing me to comfort him, he comforted me more than he could ever know.
Every day I see the stress, the fatigue, and the frustration in the mothers who participate in the Center’s GED program. I can’t fix their situations; I can’t make everything alright. But I can hold a mother’s baby when her arms are full. I can give her a hug when she seems on the verge of tears. I can help her clean up the mess her child made the spaghetti at lunch. Each of those moments means a lot to me. They may be small, miniscule things, but they are signs of unity; they are signs of support.
Little by little I have seen some of the mothers start to trust me, to lean on me even. Their trust means the world to me. It is a gift they have given me, perhaps unintentionally. I feel extremely lucky to be able to participate in the lives of the families who come into the center, however small a role I play.