Franciscan Community Volunteers 2010-2011
Ann Cook is from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Belmont Abbey College with a degree in Theology and Philosophy. As a Franciscan Community Volunteer Ann worked with Hands Across the World, an education center for newly arrived immigrants and refugees to the St. Cloud area. As a part of her post-graduate service Ann led the classroom teaching activities in English, computer, and Math skills and assisted with the day to day operations of Hands Across the World as needed. Ann says this about her volunteer year, “I learned very much from my time serving in St. Cloud, teaching and assisting. I made dear friends. I am grateful for the opportunities given to me.”
Audrey Breeden is from Murphysboro, Illinois. She graduated from Berea College with a degree in Music Education and Spanish. As a Franciscan Community Volunteer Audrey worked at Catholic Charities St. Cloud Children’s Home within their youth ministry department. The Children’s Home is a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children and youth. As a part of her long-term service Audrey assisted with a number of the activities offered to the residents, including bringing the residents to Sunday services, planning service opportunities, working as a teacher’s aid in the classroom, providing music lessons, and organizing the Special Friends program. Audrey explained her understanding of community: “Obviously there are inherent challenges to living in community. It is difficult to share limited space, and it can be humbling to watch the same petty conflicts you had with your siblings return to haunt your community. Here is where the great advantage of community becomes apparent. Instead of simply bickering and then returning angrily to our separate corners, we try to listen to every viewpoint on an issue and come to a compromise that we can all live by. Living in community make you vulnerable: it is scary to lose the pleasant veneer you present to outsiders and let other people truly get to know you with all your faults. But it is only after you let people see your uncensored self that you can truly get and give meaningful support.”
Eilis McCulloh is from Youngstown, Ohio. She graduated from Westminster College with a degree in English and History. As a Franciscan Community Volunteer Eilis worked with Lutheran Social Service in the Refugee Resettlement department. As a case manager she connected newly arrived refugees with the social services they need. This included accompanying her clients to medical appointments, assisting them in obtaining a social security card, and in obtaining public assistance. She also participated in various community initiatives to create a more welcoming and safe environment for refugees and immigrants in the St. Cloud area. Eilis describes the spirituality that surrounded the beginning of her service year like this: “When talking to a friend some days later, I described the Commissioning Mass as a huge ‘God moment’ for me. It was a powerful reminder of what brought me to this program. Each song and reading spoke to my decision to move to St. Cloud, Minn., for 10 months and serve an underprivileged population. I had answered the call mentioned in ‘Here I Am,’ ‘Lord You Have Come,’ and ‘God Has Chosen Me.’
Greg Morris is from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. He graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in English and Religious Studies. As a Franciscan Community Volunteer Greg worked with a variety of activities at Place of Hope Ministries, a homeless outreach organization. In addition to serving as an administrative assistant he served as the coordinator for the hosting of overnight guests experiencing homelessness in a variety of parishes. Thus, his long-term service entailed getting parishes to volunteer, to train volunteers, and to supervise homeless clients with the volunteers. Greg also was the bus driver chauffeuring the clients as needed. Despite coming from Georgia, Greg endured the long cold winter well and had a special way to appreciate the plight of the homeless during the cold of winter. When his year of service was almost over, he offered this reflection: “The volunteers came here from all over the country really; I was in Florida, enjoying trips to the beach and sweating in the hot sun. Six months later, I had experienced -30 degree weather. While this was quite shocking to me on a surface level of understanding, the real meat of the year was the inner workings that I had to experience to integrate into the spirit of community and service to others.”
Will Estrellanes is from San Diego, California. He graduated from University of California, Davis with a degree in Psychology. As a Franciscan Community Volunteer Will worked with the St. Cloud Boys and Girls Club as the volunteer coordinator. In this capacity with the volunteer program he recruited, interviewed, hired, trained, and supervised volunteers and interns who would serve the youth at Boys and Girls Club. Will greatly enjoyed our annual fundraiser, the Taste of St. Cloud, and he had this to say about it: “At the Taste of St. Cloud it was wonderful to meet old and new faces and to find out more about everyone’s ties to the Franciscan community. I saw Franciscan Sisters that I have not seen in a while and Associates that would visit regularly at the Welcoming House. I was happy to see my sponsor as well. The event was a miniature reunion for me and gave me a quick glimpse of how many people one can touch in a year.”
Serving in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, Franciscan Community Volunteers (FCV) is a ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota. Volunteers are not expected to be Catholic, though the program is rooted in the Catholic Franciscan tradition and volunteers are asked to have an openness to participating in this environment.
To learn more about the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN, visit www.fslf.org