Anna Engstrom, Current Volunteer
Hometown: Portland, OR
Alma Mater: Loyola Marymount University
Favorite quote: “Go forth and set the world on fire”
Hobbies: YouTube, reading, friendship
What attracted you to GSV? I saw this year as a way to work with and gain experience with a population I care about in a new city.
Where are you serving and what kind of work are you doing? I am serving at Rose House Non-Secure Placement. It is a group home for girls ages 14-17 who are placed with us for 6-18 months. I am currently serving as a case planner.
What is the best or most surprising part about your experience thus far? The hardest work is the most rewarding and this work is much harder and much more rewarding than I ever thought. I love the girls I work with!
Which tenet do you feel most drawn to at this time and why? Social Justice. It is so clearly present in my work every day. It draws me to want to invest more time and energy in researching social issues. My residents are living, breathing, motivation for me.
Hometown: Lansdale, PA
Alma Mater: Saint Joseph’s University
Favorite quote: “A day without laughter is a day wasted” –Charlie Chaplin
Hobbies: blogging, reading the news, taking adventures, learning un poco de español
What attracted you to GSV? Since my sophomore year of college, I knew that I wanted to complete a year of service because I saw so many of my peer mentors grow so much from their experience. When I went to the year of service fair, I met Jenna (the former recruiter). She shared about the four tenets, the tagline (just love), and how small the program is. She also shared about the public policy position, which I currently serve in, and I was very hooked.
Where are you serving and what kind of work are you doing? I serve in Good Shepherd Services Government and Community Relations Department in New York City. I have various responsibilities including representing GSS on coalitions with our peers, advocating in Albany and City Hall, assisting the Learning and Development department, and fostering relationships with elected officials who represent GSS programs.
Additionally, I intern at Council Member Mark Levine’s office, with various responsibilities from the legislative tasks to constituent services. It is amazing to see the inner workings of government in tandem with serving at Good Shepherd Services.
What is the best or most surprising part about your experience thus far? The best part is being cared for by my supervisor and co-workers. They mentor me in work and advise me about what to do next in my career. I did not expect to be so surrounded in love and care. It is clear that those around me understand that I am a volunteer, but also respect me as a peer, and value my opinion.
Which tenet do you feel most drawn to at this time and why? I feel very connected to my own Spirituality right now. I have found and fallen in love with a church community. I really enjoy having our intentional spirituality nights to center ourselves as a community, and I’ve found that the depths of our conversations about faith are very impactful.
Hometown: Frederick, MD
Alma Mater: University of Notre Dame
How long have you been serving on the GSV Board: 2 years
Favorite quote: The doing is the thing. – Amy Poehler
Hobbies: Photography, travel, sewing, books!
What is your current profession? Book Publishing, Children’s Book Sales
How did you become involved with GSV? I am a GSV alumni, and served NYC foster children for a year through GSV. I really responded to the mission of GSV, and continued as a support person for volunteer communities for 5 years after that. After a short break, I am now on the board to serve in a new capacity.
How has the Good Shepherd mission and values affected your work and life outside of GSV? My involvement with GSV helps to constantly remind me to look at my personal journeys of service, justice, community and spirituality. I love that it helps to center me on a regular basis.
To you what is the biggest benefit of doing a volunteer year with GSV? Everything! The community and situations that we work with are both very rewarding and very challenging, and will help you see the world in many new and personal ways. The challenges in all areas make you grow in directions you won’t expect. The community of volunteers that you will mesh with over your year, and take with you into the future is life-giving. And you will have some amazing fun all through it. Choose service!
Hometown: Napa, California
Alma Mater: Loyola Marymount University
GSV year: 2015-2016
GSV site and position you served: Marian Hall, Youth Development Counselor
GSV Community: Astoria
Favorite quote: “To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.” – Barbara Kingsolver
Hobbies: Rock climbing, reading, eating delicious food
What first attracted you to GSV? The mission to help women and children & the opportunity to make a difference
What are you up to now? I just moved to San Francisco, California and will be working as a Support Associate at a small start-up.
Can you describe a little about your journey after GSV? I initially went into GSV thinking I wanted to do social work, and while I loved my position at Marian Hall, I ultimately decided that social work was not my calling. I did a lot of research as to what I wanted my next steps to be and came to the decision that I want to work for a Diversity & Inclusion department in the tech industry. In order to reach this goal, I need to start from the bottom and learn the ins and outs of the start up world. This is why I am starting as a Support Associate!
Has your GSV experience continued to have an effect on your personal or professional decisions? Absolutely! I think GSV gave me a much widened and deeper perspective on social justice and this is something I try to incorporate into my daily life. I know now that whatever I do, I have to be doing it for others and working alongside people.
What was the best or most surprising part about your volunteer year? The most surprising part of my GSV year was how much I grew spiritually. The spirituality tenet was low on my priority list, but it took hold of me a few months in and I began to cultivate my own beliefs in a way I had never done before. Since leaving GSV, I have slipped a little on this progress just due to the business of finding a new job, but I know that when I am ready to get back to that place, it will be there for me.
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Alma Mater: Saint Mary’s College of California (BA); Fordham University (MSW)
How long have you been serving on the GSV Board: 7 months
Hobbies: Cycling, Photography/Videography
What is your current profession? Social Work
How did you become involved with GSV? I came to know GSV through Megan Massett, former recruiter for GSV and I volunteered for the 2006-2007 year in Astoria, NY. The experience was transformative and led me to stay in New York and start a career in social work. I remained connected throughout the years with my friends from the Astoria community as well as with Sr. Maureen and Handcrafting Justice. I came to the mission by way of the De La Salle Christian Brothers from my undergraduate days and remained connected post service.
I have on-and-off been involved in the yearly holiday celebrations, orientations, and other events and just love being supportive of new volunteers. While doing so from a distance I wanted to be more involved and received an invitation from Kimberly to serve on the board. It has been educational and a great opportunity to learn more about the massive amount of work it takes to make a program such as GSV successful.
How has the Good Shepherd mission and values affected your work and life outside of GSV? GSV asked a tough question of me when I started my volunteer year; what do I want to do with my life. That question was never asked in the context of service, or in the context of being removed from all that is comfortable and moving across the country to live in NYC. I don’t equate moving cross country with the difficulties my clients have experienced, but the decision was made easier without the baggage of having settled down somewhere and started on a path I did not want to remain on. By living in community, in solidarity with people facing the same life decisions, I felt my decision was made easy, light; and I chose social work.
To you what is the biggest benefit of doing a volunteer year with GSV? The biggest benefit of being of a volunteer for a year is the recognition that despite all of my education, all of my previous experiences, I have a lot left to learn. I have learned that a life of service requires that I invest in making myself someone people want to come to, want to be helped by. My GSV year of service challenged me to be more communicative and to recognize that everyone I interact with has a different life experience than my own and the only way I could see that is by being vulnerable.
Hometown: Penfield, NY
Alma Mater: LeMoyne College
Favorite quote: “It feels good to be lost in the right direction” –Anonymous
Hobbies: running, working out, exploring new places
What attracted you to GSV? I have always been interested in service. While on a service trip through my school in NYC I met a volunteer who was in the middle of his year of service. After he explained to me what that meant it sounded like something I could see myself doing. When I went home I did some research on the CVN website and came across GSV. I really resonated with the four tenets and I agreed with the mission of the Good Shepherd.
Where are you serving and what kind of work are you doing? I am serving at the Good Shepherd Shelter in LA, California. I am working with women and children who are fleeing domestic violence in a yearlong transitional program for the women and their children. I am a teacher in the onsite school for 3rd-5th grade students. I help run homework club and will be working with DART. DART stands for Domestic Abuse Response Team. During DART I will be going on ride alongs one night a week with a police officer to domestic violence calls. Once at the house of the call and the police have removed the threat, I will enter the home and help the victims with the next steps necessary to their needs. For example, finding them an emergency shelter.
What is the best or most surprising part about your experience thus far? The best part for me so far is how welcoming my community member, Kassy, has been to welcoming me to LA since this is where she is from. We have created a great connection and learn from each other every day. Having someone willing to grow and learn from the same experiences and having strong interests in the tenets and willing to learn really helps make the year of service beneficial. It surprises me the amount of support I have in not only Kassy but all of my staff members and Good Shepherd. Everyone I have encountered is always willing to share, teach, or help in any way to make this a year of growth for me as an emerging adult.
Which tenet do you feel most drawn to at this time and why? I feel most drawn to simplicity and community. I love having a stipend and a budget because I feel it keeps me grounded and I feel I have learned the difference between necessities and luxuries. This is a life skill I am very grateful to learn so early in life and hope it stays with me throughout life.
I am drawn to community because I really enjoy learning about people’s experiences and other cultures. Kassy and I were randomly paired to live together and having a brand new strong intellectual connection with someone I have only known for a short period of time is super powerful to me.
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Alma Mater: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
GSV year: 2012-2014
GSV site and position you served: Family Worker at Bronx Transitions: 2012-2013; Administrative Assistant at Hands of Hope – Nongkhai, Thailand: 2013-2014
GSV Community: Astoria Community; International (Thailand)
Favorite quote: “There are no great things, only small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa
Hobbies: Tennis, puzzles, reading
What first attracted you to GSV? The mission statement is what first attracted me to GSV. I was motivated to work with women and children, specifically those who were facing poverty and social justice issues. It seemed like the perfect fit for my skills and passions in life.
What are you up to now? I recently completed graduate school for my Masters in Social Work and am now working as a Clinical Coordinator at a residential treatment facility for adolescent boys in Minnesota.
Can you describe a little about your journey after GSV? After spending two years with GSV in both a domestic and international position, I was motivated to get further education in order to best help those that I serve during my career. I went back to school for my MSW and, because of my experience in Thailand, decided to focus on social work with immigrants and refugees. My internships all focused on case management for newly arrived refugees and individual therapy for refugees dealing with trauma. After completing school, I found a job working with another population that I have a strong passion for – youth. In the residential setting, I am able to use the skills a began to develop at Bronx Transitions working with families, and work to support and empower families and young adolescent boys who have faced hardships.
Has your GSV experience continued to have an effect on your personal or professional decisions? Yes, GSV has had a huge effect on my personal and professional decisions. Personally, I continue to identify with the four tenets of GSV: Simplicity, Community, Social Justice, and Spirituality. At times one tenet has more focus than the others, but I attempt to keep these tenets present in my day-to-day life. Professionally, I have remained focused on working with international populations, along with, at-risk youth and families. Also, when I am struggling with a particularly hard case, I find myself falling back on the GSV motto of “Just Love”.
What was the best or most surprising part about your volunteer year? Community – both living in community and building a community within the greater area. Living in community provided a support and shared experience that was priceless. Also, developing a community at work and the neighborhood or village was amazing. I truly hold each person that I encountered during my time with GSV in my heart and they helped to build a strong foundation for my life and my career.
Hometown: Newtown, PA
Alma Mater: James Madison University
Favorite quote: “Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.”
Hobbies: listening to music, finding new bands, going to concerts
What attracted you to GSV? The social justice tenet and service. I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded individuals while giving back and learning from and about marginalized populations.
Where are you serving and what kind of work are you doing? Marian Hall as a youth development counselor. I work as a support to the youth and am learning about different models for working with traumatized youth.
What is the best or most surprising part about your experience thus far? The best part has been the support from my community members. I have been blown away by how much we have grown together in one short month.
Which tenet do you feel most drawn to at this time and why? Community. I feel so accepted and supported by my community. Yes we have challenges but we work through them with open communication and support.
Hometown: Old Brookville, NY
Alma Mater: Fairfield University (Go Stags!)
How long have you been serving on the GSV Board: I’ve been officially serving on GSV’s Board for one month. I’ve been a fan of GSV for much longer!
Favorite quote: Two quotes come to mind, one from Mother Teresa and one from Wayne Gretzky. Think of what they could have accomplished together!
“God has no hands but yours and mine.” Mother Teresa
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” Wayne Gretzky
Hobbies: Planning meals for friends on a Saturday night. Keeping up with my 16 nieces and nephews. Playing the piano. Snail mail cards. Yes, I still send them.
What is your current profession? I am the Director of Marketing for the Taproot Foundation. The Taproot Foundation is a national nonprofit that connects nonprofits and social change organizations with passionate, skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono.
How did you become involved with GSV? Sometimes when you meet someone, you know right away that you’d like more time together. There’s that instant connection and a feeling of positive energy. This happened to me when I met Sister Maureen McGowan who is now the Province Leader of the Province of New York-Toronto for the Sisters of the Good Shepard. Back in 2009, I was the NYC Program Manager for the Taproot Foundation and Sister Maureen was a client of mine in her role at as executive director of a GSV sponsored nonprofit. Then, I started doing some pro bono marketing work for Maureen. We have kept in touch and I was thrilled when Maureen suggested that I apply to join GSV’s board.
How has the Good Shepherd mission and values affected your work and life outside of GSV? I really like being connected to an organization that not only has a strong commitment to the people and communities they serve, but also has a baked in personal challenge for the growth and development for those who are serving and their support network. GSV’s values are really grounding and they are presented in an encouraging way that simply requests movement forward—large or small. I’m looking to grow as a person—a whole person inside and outside of GSV— and GSV’s values give me a framework to do just that.
To you what is the biggest benefit of doing a volunteer year with GSV? Giving feels good. So, making a commitment to a year where you will help improve the lives of others will likely be incredibly rewarding. However, while they are giving, these volunteers face the challenge of moving to a new place, living in community, living on a tight budget, exploring their own spirituality, and the likelihood that their own friends and family don’t entirely “get it.” That’s not easy. I think the biggest benefit of doing a volunteer year with GSV is the growth that happens within each volunteer and how that prepares them for their lives. I suspect the women and men look at themselves and see a stronger, more flexible, more self-aware, more self-confident (and dare I add happier?) self in the mirror at the end of the program. That’s my hypothesis, but I’m new to the Board. I’m excited to see!
Hometown: Temple City, CA
Alma Mater: Loyola Marymount University
GSV year: 2009-2010
GSV site and position you served: Youth Development Counselor at Marian Hall
GSV Community: Astoria
Favorite quote: “Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretch her fingers to touch the heavens.” – Lao Tzu
Hobbies: Hiking with my pups, cooking, going to the movies, Netflix marathoning, and playing all the board games.
What first attracted you to GSV? The mission being focused on women and children – it was similar to the mission of the service org I was involved in at LMU – Marians Service Org. I spent time volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, and tutoring while in college, and to know that I could be with an organization that was committed to bettering the lives of women and children was very appealing. I liked that no matter what placement I got, I would be in a field that was relevant to my passions, as a woman, as a feminist, as someone who had experienced trauma and violence. Most other post-grad orgs I looked at were more broad – they had placements in all different arenas (which is great), but they weren’t as focused as I wanted.
What are you up to now? I am currently a youth advocate at First Place for Youth – it’s a CA-wide organization that helps provide stable housing to former foster and/or homeless youth, 18-24, and also provides wholistic care – trying to help them get employed, further their education, work on mental health and general health and wellness issues, and just be more prepared for life. I have a caseload of 15 young people – most are young moms – all of them are strong, courageous, and resilient. They’ve been through hell and back, and I’m just here as a support for things they might need – whether it’s someone to have lunch with, someone to take them grocery shopping, or to sit with their baby, in my car, while they go inside for a job interview (true story).
Can you describe a little about your journey after GSV? After GSV, I dabbled in the world of group home work for a while longer, back home in Southern California. I spent a year working with young ladies ages 6-15 in the foster care system, in direct service, and I got burnt out really quickly. I was having anxiety attacks at work, and my worldview was shifting from optimistic and fighter, to sad and hopeless. It was a sign I needed a break. I went to grad school at Loyola Marymount and got my MA in Educational Studies. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I still had a strong passion for nonprofit work. I spent a couple of years as a program coordinator for Jesuit Volunteer Corps – it was great. I got to travel all over the country, I got to work with inspired (and inspiring!) college grads who wanted to change the world, and I got to link people to service placements that were meaningful. I also met my wife through JVC and continued to live in intentional community for a little while. After my time was up with JVC, I again was lost and didn’t know what to do – after a few months unemployed, then a few months working at an ice cream shop (True Life: I Scoop With My Masters Degree), I got linked to First Place for Youth! It’s been quite a journey – I’m still not sure I am where I want to be, but I know that I’m where God wants me, for now. My passion for working with foster youth was planted as a Good Shepherd Volunteer. I found ways to foster that passion over the years, and now I’m here, growing that seed, again, seeing where and how it’ll bloom.
Has your GSV experience continued to have an effect on your personal or professional decisions? The direct service I did with GSV has informed all of my professional decisions. It cultivated a sense of passion, and a sense of duty in me – not just to do what is easy and comfortable – but to give back where it’s needed the most, and to live and thrive in discomfort. My GSV year was not easy by any means – a lot went down, professionally and personally. But I look back at it with a lot of gratitude and humility. I thought I was a big shot and I thought I knew everything, and looking back, it reminds me of how small I was, and still am, and how much work there is to be done. More tangibly, it has shown me that my biggest passion in life is to work with current or former foster youth – that is the population that I know I have the most to give to, and I’m grateful I discovered that through GSV.
What was the best or most surprising part about your volunteer year? The best part of my year was working at Marian Hall – it was truly a family. I still think about some of my colleagues on a daily basis. I had great supervisors in Yari, Vivian, and Rodina. My coworkers – Jackie, Charles, Lisa, Deborah, Nadine, Allan, Wisal, Berje, etc. all were a family to me – they supported me, they challenged me, and they taught me so much. They would bring me treats, we would share funny stories, and we lifted each other up. When things were rocky with my community, they were the ones that made NYC feel like home. I am also super grateful for the young people at Marian Hall. They helped me to learn a lot about myself. When I was grieving the loss of my grandfather, halfway through the year, it was the young women there that really opened my eyes to loss, grief, trauma, and to healing.
I just got married and it was a special thing to have one of my Marian Hall coworkers, and one of my GSV community mates there at my wedding. That’s something I would not trade for anything.
Hometown: Mendham, NJ
Alma Mater: James Madison University
Favorite quote: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing it loud for all to hear.” -Elf
Hobbies: hanging out with friends, singing, working out, baking, reading, and being in nature
What attracted you to GSV? The four tenets were definitely the reason I loved GSV (and still do!).
Where are you serving and what kind of work are you doing? Family Foster Care in the Bronx; Mostly I run programs with youth, help with job development, resume building, etc.
What is the best or most surprising part about your experience thus far? The best part of my experience so far is spending time with my youth and getting to know them!
Which tenet do you feel most drawn to at this time and why? The tenet I feel most drawn to is community because you need a support system from all communities (not just with the people you live with).
Hometown: Torrance, CA
Alma Mater: Loyola Marymount University
GSV year: 2011-2012
GSV site and position you served: Chelsea Foyer, Case Manager and Alumni Services Coordinator
GSV Community: Astoria, the greatest high school/convent/home hybrid there ever was
Favorite quote: “Oy with the poodles already!” -Gilmore Girls
Hobbies: Finding delicious food in whatever city I’m in and petting other people’s dogs
What first attracted you to GSV? I loved the size of the program –moving to a big city like New York City was a huge step and I appreciated having a very tight knit community of GSV staff and alumni within shouting distance, always ready to lend a hand of support.
What are you up to now? I recently started a role as Development Coordinator at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Can you describe a little about your journey after GSV? My journey after GSV has been filled with lots of twists and turns —I’ve worked at nonprofits, technology start-ups, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and now Georgetown. Although there might not seem like a common thread, each job I’ve had has been influenced by the passion I discovered in GSV. I learned that what you care about in your personal life can also be incorporated into your job –it doesn’t always have to be either/or. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, I was exposed to a whole new world of caregiving and decided I wanted to find a way to incorporate that journey into my daily work, which is eventually how I ended up at Georgetown’s Lombardi Cancer Center. And because Georgetown is founded in “cura personalis,” or “care for the whole person,” I get to see my personal life values reflected in my work as well.
Has your GSV experience continued to have an effect on your personal or professional decisions? Absolutely. As a GSV, I learned how to put soul into my work and genuinely care about how my actions and contributions could affect others, and that is something I will always carry with me in both my personal and professional life.
What was the best or most surprising part about your volunteer year? I met an amazing group of women who I admire and respect to an extraordinary degree, and although our lives have taken us in all different directions, their passion for justice continues to blow me away. I’m so PROUD each one of them.
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Alma Mater: UC Berkeley
Favorite quote: “Well behaved women rarely make history”
Hobbies: Reading, Writing, Eating good food, listening to music, exploring new places, planning adventures
What attracted you to GSV? The four tenets and the opportunity to gain experience in social work.
Where are you serving and what kind of work are you doing? I’m serving at Family Foster Care in the Bronx. I work in the Homefinding department, recruiting and screening future foster families, and helping them through the application process.
What is the best or most surprising part about your experience thus far? I’ve been surprised at how supportive community life has been. Living with community members and being able to share our thoughts and experiences after work has been helpful in the transition to GSV life. When things get overwhelming, they help to put things into perspective.
Which tenet do you feel most drawn to at this time and why? Right now, I feel most drawn to the tenet of spirituality. As I begin to feel settled in my new position and routine, I feel drawn to incorporate time to connect with my spirituality. Recently, I’ve been able to focus and reflect on the ways that the universe is working to teach me lessons in my daily work and interactions.