Thursday, April 14, 2016

Embrace the Unknown

Brian Manjarrez is a current volunteer with the Hope Center in Racine Wisconsin

“At any given moment you have the power to say: This is not how the story is going to end.”
This quote has been very inspiring to me ever since I discovered it on my Kairos experience during my senior year of college. For those of you unfamiliar with Kairos, Kairos is a weekend retreat with the aim of providing participants the chance to "contemplate God's role in their lives.” The above quote pushed me to finish my senior year strong and has helped me many times during my volunteer year.

My ministry site is the HOPES Center. The HOPES Center helps those who are homeless and/or have a mental illness by providing counseling and other resources around Racine. It has been a truly eye opening experience to hear clients’ stories. I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to help clients when I can. My coworkers are amazing and have given me wise life advice. I am the only Dominican Volunteer this year in Racine, Wisconsin, which has been difficult at times. There are days that I wish I had another volunteer with me to share my experiences in Racine. I have the Kairos quote on the wall above my bed; this helps remind me every day that I can be sad and cry over the fact that I am the only volunteer – or I can change my approach. I have that power and I will change my story! After my midyear retreat I had to relearn that. It took a while but this is my story, these are my memories, and this is my journey. Sometimes you have to go through things alone to see the big picture. I have no regrets over my decision of coming to Racine. I knew the risks of being the only volunteer; I took the risk and I would probably do it again. I love my ministry site and would never change that.  
Brian and 2 of the sisters with whom he lives in community

Brian and Sr. Christin Tomy singing at a Hope Center event

Through this experience I have figured out my plans for next year. I have been accepted into Dominican University’s Graduate School of Social Work. My hope is to become a high school social worker or counselor. I hope to use what I have learned and experienced during my volunteer year in my future endeavors.

For those of you who are thinking about becoming a Dominican Volunteer, I say to you: Take the risk. Embrace the unknown. Have the power to choose how your story ends. This is a life changing experience. Lastly, have fun. 

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