Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry


Bon Secours Volunteers Reflect on Providing Good Help to Those in Need

By extending the healing ministry of Christ to those in need, Bon Secours Volunteers deepen their relationships with God, with self, and with others. This striving to build relationships in the Way of Christ lies at the heart of a Bon Secours Volunteer’s commitment to full-time service.

Yet, life as a Bon Secours Volunteer is about much more than serving others for a year. Bon Secours Volunteers commit to learn through their service with others. The following reflections demonstrate how much of this learning occurs when our volunteers recognize Christ in the people they serve. Thus, throughout a year of full-time service, Bon Secours volunteers are able to more deeply explore the reciprocal or mutual nature of relationships built through service with others. Exploring the dynamic of how sharing Christ’s healing ministry with others leads one to receive Christ’s healing ministry from others enables our volunteers to grow more closely to God, to self, and, of course, to others.

  • Lending An Ear, Lending a Voice by Patrick O’Neil

    Pat 2At the end of February, the hospital implemented an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. It was a particularly hectic and stressful time for a majority of the staff. Since most of the staff have been consumed with figuring out the details of the new system, I feel as if my job is more important than ever to spend time with patients and accompany them during their ER experience.

    One such patient was brought into the ER by ambulance with panic attack symptoms, including having difficulty breathing. She was an incredibly sweet woman, and so I was drawn to her room frequently to sit and chat with her. She shared with me that she was very frustrated because her nebulizer machine at home was not administering her medicine properly, and she felt like it wasn’t working. She had called her insurance company to ask if they could help her, but she was told that they couldn’t do anything for her unless she had a prescription from her primary care doctor. Becoming frustrated and anxious, she explained that she did have a prescription. However, when she becomes anxious she begins to slur and stutter, and the representative at the insurance company could not understand what she was asking. To make a long story short, she asked if I could help her obtain a new machine, and I said I would do whatever I could to help her.

    When I went back to her room a short while later, she was still waiting for the doctor so she could ask for assistance with the nebulizer machine. While I was there, the doctor came in to check on her and it was at this time that the patient began experiencing the onset of another panic attack. The doctor worked through it with her, calming her down enough to ask her what we could do to help her. Since she was having trouble forming coherent words due to her panic attack, she asked me to help explain her case to the doctor since the patient had already explained it to me. I explained to the doctor the issue with the nebulizer machine, as well as the panic attacks that she was regularly experiencing. The doctor said she would set the patient up with an appointment at the primary care clinic at the hospital, as well as give her information to see a psychiatrist to help figure out the panic attacks. After the doctor left the room, I stayed to make sure the patient was okay. She gave me a huge hug and simply said “thank you.”

    I can’t pretend to know what any of the patients that come through the ER are going through, but what I can do is accompany them while they are in the ER and let them know that they don’t have to go through the experience alone.

  • The 2012-13 Volunteers reflect on liberation

    jb1_3485This year of service has provided many new opportunities for our ministry volunteers. While they have come to serve the people of southwest Baltimore and give of themselves, inevitably the reciprocal nature of relationships becomes clear. The truth of two-way relationships became especially clear when the volunteers were asked to consider the role of liberation in their year of service. While some of the volunteers reflected on how they had the chance to give liberation in their work at the Bon Secours hospital or Family Support Center, several volunteers also reflected on how they had received liberation from the people they serve with and the time spent reflecting on the presence of God in their lives. These brief reflections underline the nature of liberation as a break from the past, especially from fear or worry.

    Kelsey has appreciated her opportunity to serve as a liberator with her work in the Tele-Heart program. “By showing patience and concern for the patients whose blood pressure I take every week, I have given them a listening ear and a hand of comfort and reassurance. I have given them liberation from the fears and concerns that are common to congestive heart failure patients.” Julie clipboard

    In a similar way, Julie has seen her work helping discharged patients secure follow-up appointments impact the people she serves. “In my ministry, I have been able to give liberation in the form of providing primary care. If patients keep their follow-up appointments, they have the opportunity to secure consistent health care and break the cycle of consistent re-admittance to the hospital.”

    Kyle summarized the role that liberation has played in his time this year, by noting both the liberation he has given, as well as received. “This year I have been liberated by being able to take the time for reflection. This has allowed me to see how this experience has changed me, and how I have impacted others.”

    Rebecca’s service in the Family Support Center has opened her eyes in many new ways, and provided her liberation in the form of the ability and opportunity to love more broadly. “My time in Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry has freed me from limiting social structures. I have grown to love and build relationships with people of various ages, races, religions and economic backgrounds.”

    jb1_3283Danielle’s work in the Renal Department has provided her liberation from concern about being in a new city and far from her home and family. “Travelling away from home, I was burdened with the thought of missing my family and friends. I received liberation through my work at the hospital where the patients and staff were so welcoming to me. My fear of being homesick was relieved as the Renal Department became my family. I truly feel blessed every day as I serve others.”

    Eugene also reflected on being liberated from worry and uncertainty about the future. “This year, God has liberated me from all my worries about my future. Although these thoughts still exist in me, God has assured me over the months that I am in his hands and He has a plan for me.”

  • Hearts Wide Open by Sarah Ceponis, 2011-12 volunteer

    Ceponis-Better TogetherNine months ago during my graduation weekend, I sat in an audience of students committed to post-graduate service and listened as a speaker shared with us her thoughts on our coming year. Though not all her words stuck that day, I do remember those she borrowed from renowned Irish poet Seamus Heaney. From his poem, “Postscript,” she read: “You are neither here nor there/ A hurry through which known and strange things pass/ As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways/ And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.”

    For me and my three roommates in the Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry program, we are living Heaney’s poetry this year. We are “neither here nor there” not in a scattered sense, but in the sense that we occupy two worlds at once. Half our hearts- our upbringings, our families, many friends- lie in comfortable suburbs hundreds of miles and infinite degrees of difference away. The other halves of our hearts have become deeply rooted in a whole new world: that of Southwest Baltimore. We have found in his place, under decaying facades- the littered sidewalks, the boarded-up buildings- a vibrant community, a spirited population, a place at once able to push our boundaries and also able to pull us completely in.

    Sarah C w kids at tree IMG_0488_2Again and again, we have found ourselves surprised, one might say, by the “big soft buffetings” we encounter in our workplaces. An emergency room patient recently told [my community member], upon hearing she only worked there until July, “Well, I’ll have to come back a lot before then”. And every few weeks, [another of my community members] comes home bearing two or three puzzles as gifts; an elderly woman she serves has almost nothing, but somehow comes up with something to give. When a hospital health far had leftover decorations, [the last of my community members] traveled to patient rooms handing them out, and even an old man, gravely ill in bed, said yes, he would love a red heart balloon. At the Family Support Center a few weeks ago, I stood and watched a barely 3 year old comfort her tiny, crying baby sister, saying: “Ji’Yah, don’t cry. You’re ok. Mommy’s in class. I’m here now. I love you- really. Don’t cry.”

    Sarah C with kids on slide IMG_0426Moments like these- of irony and puzzles, of red balloons and unconditional love- dazzle us. They are things we might have deemed strange in our old world, but these things are now fitting and known in our new world, now known in our hearts. For us volunteers, if the landscape of our past is “there,” and the streets of our present “here”, we truly do reside in an in-between this year. It is not hazy or disorienting; the edge of a canyon between two worlds is a perfect place to find fresh air.

    When the 6 year old I babysat asked me, before I left for Baltimore, what “doing service” was, I told him a definition in the simplest terms I could think of: “It’s holding hands with someone you don’t know.” Now I would tell him it is that and much more. It is surrendering your heart. To borrow the words of Seamus Heaney, “It is letting your heart be caught off guard and blown open.”

We are called by God and sent by the Church to reproduce in ourselves:
Christ healing... Christ consoling... Christ always aware of the needs of others.