We were lost! I was the navigator fighting with the Garmin as we found ourselves at the correct address, but not the right place. So technically we weren’t lost, just in the wrong ‘local.’ This evening my service group and I were looking forward to a home-cooked dinner hosted by the Vincentian Service Corp located just outside of LA.
The Vincentian Service Corps is a program similar to AmeriCorps in which individuals agree to a year of service and live in a house with about a half dozen other participants. While in the program, they are provided with housing, transportation, and a small stipend. Participants live simply and in solidarity with each other. I was surprised to learn about the diverse backgrounds of each of the members that we met at their house in Montebello, a city about 20 minutes from LA. One member was in nursing school and volunteering at a local hospital, another had previously worked at a tech company and decided to take a year off, and a couple of them were teachers. They were all at different points in their lives and were in the same program for different reasons.
I really enjoyed learning about everyone and when we sat down for a simple spaghetti dinner I got to know RJ, a DePaul alum. RJ had already completed his year of service in the Vincentian Service Corps and was now a sort of Resident Advisor for the current members. RJ and I talked about life after DePaul. Part of our conversation that really resonated with me was his view of the world outside of DePaul’s Vincentian Community in Chicago.
It made me realize that after graduation the welcoming environment of Socially Responsible Leaders and Vincentians in Action was traded for a world that does not always reflect these ideals. As a DePaul student, you become entrenched in the university values: Urban, Catholic, and Vincentian. Being located in Chicago, surrounded by the city, it is not as if DePaul has an isolated campus. However, there is a definite vibe that emanates throughout the campus, embracing diversity with open arms.
This illustrates the importance for DePaul Alumni to remember the values of St. Vincent and to continue to live as Socially Responsible Leaders after graduation day. RJ exemplified this call to action, yet you don’t have to join a service program to do this. Think about how you can inspire change and be a Vincentian in Action in the years to come. What will you do?