Home » Features » Loretto Volunteers Complete Their Missions

Loretto Volunteers Complete Their Missions

Posted on September 1, 2016, by Loretto Community

By Molly Butler

Graduation Celebration — Loretto Volunteers lift Volunteer Coordinator Molly Butler with ease as they celebrate their 2016 graduation from the Loretto Volunteer Program. Standing from left are Mary Welter, Emma Laut, Maya Combs, Magaly Garcia, Arielle Zionts, Ariana Alvarez, Teresa Blumenstein and Elizabeth Hardt.
Photo courtesy of Molly Butler

July 13 the 2015-2016 Loretto Volunteers captured the hearts of a full Motherhouse conference room through a night of storytelling. The narratives told that night were crafted during their weeklong closing retreat and reflected eight distinct experiences guided by the same mission to work for justice and peace. This special group of young adults ended their volunteer year the same way they began — wise, grounded, good-humored and openminded; what came between is where their stories unfold …

Maya Combs’ story opened with a snapshot of her 10-year-old self at the birth of her cousin, a formative experience that sparked her passion for birth work and eventual placement with the Family Health and Birth Center in Washington, D.C., this past year. Maya plans to continue her training as a doula [birth assistant] in the Bay area and pursue a nursing/midwifery degree in fall 2017.

From left, Cecily Jones and Ari Alvaraez spend time together at the Motherhouse.
Photo courtesy of Molly Butler

Ari Alvarez shared a heartwarming account of her recent trip to El Salvador with students from her placement at Nerinx Hall High School in St. Louis. She was particularly moved by the impact that this trip had on one particular student who knew by the end of the trip that she wanted to be a doctor after learning about the work of Ann Manganaro. This served as a powerful testament to the impact of those who came before us in shaping our own journeys toward justice. Ari is sticking around Loretto through the work of the U.N. office next year, and we are so grateful for that!

Mary Welter let us in on a “day- in-the-life” of a community healthcare worker. From showing patients how to take their own blood sugar to translating for French-speaking West African patients to teaching a patient to use a nebulizer in the front seat of his car while it was double parked, no two days are the same, but together add up to something so meaningful. Mary will stay in the D.C. area volunteering with the Westmoreland Volunteer Program, where she will work at the Pregnancy Aid Center.

Emma Laut’s story started with a flat tire and ended with a lesson in open communication. After a challenging period following the departure of one housemate, Emma realized that she and her other housemate avoided talking about this hard reality. It wasn’t until her tire blew out that Emma was forced to ask for help, opening the door to a meaningful conversation with her housemate about more than just a flat tire. Emma spent the last year working with Family Care Health Centers in St. Louis and now plans to move to Detroit to start an AmeriCorps Program teaching nutrition to youngsters.

Teresa Blumenstein, volunteer at Loretto’s U.N. NGO, shared an emotional account of her recent experience in Istanbul, where she traveled for the World Humanitarian Summit with Theresa Kubasak. She told about one afternoon in particular at the community center where she was staying, when the roaring sounds of a plane overhead barely fazed her yet triggered strong reactions from others in the room who associated these sounds with the war in their home country of Syria. This experience further intensified Teresa’s thirst for justice and peace after hearing the emotional accounts of those she met in Turkey. So, after two years of Loretto volunteerism, Teresa will continue this mission with another faith-based NGO community at the United Nations called UNANIMA International.

Magaly Garcia opened up about her trying week in the hospital this past February and even more trying weeks that followed her emergency abdominal surgery. The scar from this surgery initially served as a reminder of a terrible week but is now an important part of her: She looks at it each day and remembers the Community that surrounded her and its incredible strength that pulled her through. Magaly is moving back to the Bay area where she will work as an administrative assistant at a nonprofit that offers legal assistance to immigrants. The work is similar to what she did at the Central American Resource Center in Washington, D.C., this past year.

Elizabeth Hardt’s story began at the Motherhouse last August when she took part in a craft project that foreshadowed the year ahead. The project was simple. Decorate a ceramic flowerpot. Elizabeth decided to decorate it with pictures of strong women from a magazine she found that inspired her.

Although the sprout she planted in the pot died quickly, the pot itself withstood much more. It remained a symbol for her this entire year of the incredible women she was surrounded by at the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual where she worked, the housemates she came home to each night and the inspiring women of Loretto. Elizabeth hails from Kentucky originally and keeps an open mind about where she will find herself working next, undoubtedly making an impact wherever she goes.

From One Storyteller to Another — From left, Loretto Volunteer Teresa Blumenstein trades stories with Loretto Archivist Eleanor Craig at a night of storytelling at the Motherhouse. Teresa gave an emotional account of her recent experience in Istanbul, where she traveled with Theresa Kubasak for the World Humanitarian Summit. Teresa’s experience there intensified her continuing thirst for justice and peace.
Photo courtesy of Molly Butler

Arielle Zionts shared a story about an audience member that railed against the existence of religion at a panel hosted by her placement, “Interfaith Voices” in Washington, D.C. This stirred up a lot of feelings for Arielle, who believed in her core that religion could not be separated from culture and that so many important movements, ideas and songs, etc., have their roots in religion. She realized that before her year with Loretto she hadn’t drawn this connection between religion and social justice movements but came to know that in the end, everyone benefits from religion-inspired activism. Arielle plans to continue to pursue her dream of radio after finishing her time with “Interfaith Voices.”

These genuine stories exist as part of the big, colorful, funky tapestry we know and love as Loretto, becoming only more beautiful as it grows.

Thank you to all of the 2015- 2016 Loretto Volunteers for your vulnerability, strength and compassion in weaving these threads toward justice and peace.

From left, Loretto Volunteers Mary Welter, Magaly Garcia and Maya Combs relax at Cedars of Peace during their weeklong closing retreat at the Motherhouse.
Photo courtesy of Molly Butler

Loretto Community

We are Sisters and Co-members who strive to bring the healing spirit of God into our world.
Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!