Precepts for Volunteers

Precepts for Volunteers (John Klug)

Take time to listen, and you will find friends.

Be careful not to judge, you haven’t been there for the whole trial.

Remember who the “experts” are in poverty living.

Avoid leadership unless you plan to stay.

Admit powerlessness, it’s innate to your humanity.

Find reason to laugh, it’s characteristic of courage.

Be grateful for what you have learned, for you will have taught little.

Pray for the rich, they have a much greater problem.

Celebrate a small success; else you may not celebrate at all.

Tolerate hostility, for it’s the offspring of oppression.

Respect the dignity of daily humanity and you will have witnessed the ultimate prayer.

Feel good when giving of that which you have.

Expect blessings when giving of that which you have little.

On a short service trip to Denver one spring break, our campus minister handed out these “Precepts for Volunteers.” They’re by a man named John Klug, who unfortunately shares his name with a famous athlete, making him difficult to search online.

I typically have a tiny wannabe-iconostasis wall where I keep the prayer cards and saint cards that I’ve collected from all over, and for the past 18 months I’ve kept this list with the other images, above my desk (my cards are currently in a pile on my desk, due to moving, but I hope to stick them up shortly). There’s a lot to think about in those 13 little tips, especially now that I’m volunteering full-time.

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A Year of Service: doing the dishes

I’ve been having one of those days (weeks/months) where I am absolutely overflowing with new things, new ideas, new thoughts, but I have yet to have very much downtime to dissect them, and I’m a person who likes to thoroughly analyze everything before I come to a conclusion. It’s the journalist in me.

It has been a crazy month since I left for this adventure in service. We’ve toured the Capitol, gone white-water rafting (yikes), cooked for each other, cried together…I’m beginning to finally get my arms around an entirely new industry, which has been tough. Our diocese got a new bishop last weekend (her blog is here) which was fabulous, and she is fabulous, and the celebration was fabulous, but we were on the go all weekend.


Yesterday I wrote this reflection for the Sycamore House blog. And today I read my daily newsletter from the Vatican (I know, only a nerd would sign up for that) and I saw this, from Francis’s message:

“At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary is the thoughtful woman who sees a serious problem for the spouses: the wine, the symbol of the joy of the feast, has run out. Mary recognises the difficulty, in some way makes it her own, and acts swiftly and discreetly. She does not simply look on, much less spend time in finding fault, but rather, she turns to Jesus and presents him with the concrete problem: ‘They have no wine’. And when Jesus tells her that it is not yet the time for him to reveal himself, she says to the servants: ‘Do whatever he tells you’. Jesus then performs the miracle, turning water into wine, a wine that immediately appears to be the best of the whole celebration.”

I am working earnestly on becoming like this Mary: a thoughtful woman who sees a problem and discreetly fixes it, rather than looking on.

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Life Lately & Long Form

This summer has absolutely flown by! I know we still have about a month left, but I am leaving my summer job in just a week, followed by two weeks of vacation in the Poconos (AKA using my parents’ laundry, AC, and fridge) and then on the 23rd I’m off to Harrisburg.

In the last four years I’ve bounced between rural Pennsylvania, Queens, Rome and Western New York, and now I’ll be getting to know urban PA in the state capital.


The hood ornament on a vintage Pierce Arrow, a car manufactured in Buffalo.

I love new places, but I detest moving and that’s probably what I’ll spend this weekend doing.

Last weekend a friend of Rick’s from school visited and we had a nice time doing all the touristy things in Niagara Falls and around East Aurora, as well as Canalside and of course the Made in America Store.

I’ve been reading a lot of long-form/longer journalism lately (is that what’s in, or is it me?) and here are a few of the best pieces I’ve found:

To those who are hungry for real, well-researched news–which it seems like many are, based on what I see and hear–it’s out there. And it’s worth finding it.

I’ve also been really into email newsletters (I know, so 2009) so I may share my favorites soon!

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lanterns nyc

I do not do well with change.

My family (especially Dad—I’m looking at you, Douglas) knows this and loves to mention it. It is a well-documented phenomenon, from the time that I pitched a fit over a non-traditional Christmas tree that my mom tried to slip by when I was two, thinking I wouldn’t notice. I like to think that over the years I’ve gotten better about change, but it’s still something to which I am averse. 

This year, though, I knew change was coming. This was the year of Big Decisions, and Real Life, and Change. 

I didn’t pick a “word to live by” at the New Year’s, like so many mom bloggers do, but if I had it would have been Change. 

Rick decided to change it up big on New Year’s Eve, when he proposed. Then I spent five short months working jobs I loved and going to school and interning, which was wonderful but also, I spent a lot of time being overwhelmed and curling into a ball with Hulu and Chinese food. 

Then I graduated. 

Now, I’m back in East Aurora, the town too twee to be real, and back at the Advertiser. I love local news and I love only working 35 hours a week (may a regular job always feel like a luxury!). I’m also managing social media this summer, which is a whole new challenge. I have been learning a lot and reading more timely content than I have in ages and it’s glorious.

At the end of August I’ll be moving to Harrisburg, where I will be joining Sycamore House, an outpost of the Episcopal Service Corps. I’ll be working four days a week at an undetermined nonprofit, spending the fifth day in spiritual formation, and living in community with six other girls. It’s an adventure, and it’s scary to be doing the new city-new job-new people routine again, but I think I made the right choice. 

Sometimes, change is good. 

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The Flat White

This is the story of a girl, a coffee, love, and disenchantment.


The Flat White was one of the highlights of my trip to Europe. I’m not joking; I really, really like coffee.

This delicious and mysteriously-named drink originated in Australia (thus sayeth Wikipedia) and consists of 2 “ristretto” shots (espresso with less water than a normal shot) and “microfoamed” milk. I discovered it on Hogmanay in Scotland and I felt very cultured, until, less than a week later, Starbucks announced that the flat white was the newest addition to their espresso family.


I was slightly bitter about how Starbucks took away my coffee cachet, but yesterday I got over myself and tried the flat white there…..

….and it’s delicious. 

So in short, I love the flat white. It’s replaced the cappuccino as my new go-to drink.

My love for Starbucks is significantly smaller than my love for coffee, but it’s the best espresso on campus, so I will continue to drink it…plus, I’m not that far away from a gold card. Plus, they now have the flat white. 

coffee love heart cappuccino fancyPlus, coffee=love. 


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