Part I of this post was originally published in the Summer 2014 edition of the Bon Secours newsletter. It has been adapted to be read in conjunction with Part II of this blog post, a reflection on community written by Kathleen Pormento (BSVM 2010-2011). Kathleen’s writing was originally published in the Spring 2010 edition of FOCUS, a publication of the Sisters of Bon Secours.
“We have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
-Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness
Throughout this year of service, I’ve periodically asked our volunteers: Can you feel love growing in your house?
When I first asked this question, I received looks of surprise, then thoughtful silence, and then deep smiles of appreciation. I’ve witnessed those smiles deepen this year.
Likewise, throughout the year, I’ve encountered those smiles—symptoms of the volunteers’ strong sense of love and community—on the faces of other staff, supporters, neighbors, site supervisors, patients, and children as they speak about or engage with our volunteers. The smiles keep deepening. The number of faces with smiles keeps growing. Kathleen Pormento’s reflection below describes the love which has both nurtured community and been nurtured by community. Just as she and her fellow volunteers have expanded our hearts, I imagine Kat’s words will touch your heart and deepen your smile.
Peace to you,
Director, Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry
Transformed by Love in the Sowebo Community:
A Reflection by BSVM 2010-2011 Volunteer Kathleen Pormento
I am not sure what I expected before coming to Southwest Baltimore, but what I have experienced thus far has exceeded my imagination. Constantly, I find myself to be more capable of learning and loving than I ever thought possible. I attribute this to my heart opening to a community I was graciously invited to join. Most of the patients whom I serve live in the West Baltimore community. Knowing that they are also my neighbors makes me feel closer to them.
On one occasion at Hollins Market (a fixture of the Southwest Baltimore community), I experienced the joy of running into one of my Bon Secours patients. She was surprised to see me there. This experience outside the hospital made her feel even more comfortable speaking with me when we met in the dialysis unit. It also reaffirmed my belief in the relationship aspect of health care. I realized that as a part of the community, conversations outside of the hospital increased the level of trust within the hospital. As a result of this trust, patients shared more openly about how they were truly feeling.
I now see that with love at the forefront, all action done on behalf of the patient occurs naturally; the most beautiful patient interactions are those done with genuine, compassionate care. Interactions that take place in this way are not exclusively beneficial for patients. They have deeply impacted me, as well. With each conversation, I feel transformed by the love that I receive in return.