Monday, November 21, 2016

Catching Up with Valentin

Valentin, a full-time volunteer from the 2014- 2015 community, took the time to answer some questions for us about his experience in the Franciscan Outreach Volunteer Program. Originally from Leutkirch, South Germany, Valentin spent one year serving at the Marquard Center. He is now back in Germany and greatly missed!   

How did you hear about the Franciscan Outreach Volunteer Program?

My cousin Thomas who was a full-time volunteer from 2008-2009.

What made you decide to commit to a full-time volunteer program?

I wanted to experience living in a different country and while in that country also do something useful and give back. I did not want to just live there.

Were you nervous before you moved to Chicago?

Yes, a little bit but I was mostly excited.

Did the experience impact you in a way that surprised you?

I became more thoughtful from the experience of serving the homeless and also became more mature. It made me think a lot more about what I do and how it effects other people.

Were you surprised by the closeness of relationships formed with community members and guests?

Yes. I did not think that the relationships would be that strong. I also did not expect that the guests would open up to me about personal stuff and the friendships that would evolve out of those conversations and seeing those people at night.

What is one of your favorite memories with the guests?

It is really hard to pick. I have a lot of good memories with the guests.
In general, seeing the guests happy was always a good moment for me. Like when I gave them something and they thanked me and they were happy. Or watching TV with them and talking about our favorite TV shows. That was fun too. Stuff like that. 

What is one of your favorite memories with the other volunteers?

That is also hard to pick. All of the retreats were really fun. The community nights were also great too. Like the time we all went bowling together. Hanging out with the community in the living room as well. I also liked to go to the movies with Nick and then discuss them or discuss the Game of Thrones books. A lot of great memories. Also going to get sushi at Nori with the other volunteers and Slurpee time!

What are you up to now?

Now I am going to University for Engineering and Business.

Have you gone back to visit the Marquard Center?

Yes, I was there late February to early March.

Have you seen any of the other full-time volunteers from your community since leaving?

Yes, I have visited Cady in Prague and we did a Christmas Market tour all around the city. Then I stayed with Cara, Theresa and Karen at their apartment in Chicago and was able to see Brett, Kendall, Maddy, Nick, and also Patrick from the community before me while I was there. I also texted Sebi while traveling through Germany this past summer and was able to meet up with him in Bochum.

Are there certain things that make you think of your time in Chicago or the Marquard Center?

Certain foods definitely make me think of the Marquard Center, like peanut butter and Slurpees.

There are also certain little moments that make me think of the Marquard Center. Like every time I make myself food. And every time I cut potatoes or fruit I always think of the millions of potatoes and fruit that I cut up there for the guests.

What advice would you give to current or future full-time volunteers?

It is not always going to be fun but just keep your head up, appreciate every single moment, and the small things that make you happy during the day. Just have fun and don’t take everything too seriously. Don’t let everything get to you.

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