Founded around 1990, the Loretto Volunteer Program matches volunteers with social justice organizations to complete a year of service. The volunteers live in communal housing, and through the work performed daily, they carry out the Loretto community’s mission to work for justice and act for peace. As stated on the Loretto Volunteer Program’s website, “Loretto volunteers are an extension of the mission and spirit of the Loretto community.” This statement definitely rings true for the Loretto Volunteer at Nerinx this year, Maddy Herries.
In the past, Nerinx has had some amazing people filling the Loretto volunteer position, but this year we are extra lucky to have an alumna. Maddy graduated Nerinx in 2014, after which she attended the University of Missouri in Columbia (Mizzou). She graduated Mizzou this past spring and entered the Loretto Volunteer program in August, choosing Nerinx as her designated site. When asked what she remembered most about her time at Nerinx, Maddy reminisced about her work doing crew for theater productions, which she says got her involved with people outside her friend group and provided her with well-rounded social interactions. Maddy also remembers fondly the way she felt able to talk with anyone in her class, not wanting to interact solely with the people in her friend group.
Many Nerinx alumnae and current students feel they would not be the same person if they had not attended the Hall. To them, this school and the Loretto values have impacted how they were shaped and how they continue to grow. Maddy much agrees with this sentiment, saying Nerinx helped her learn how to advocate for her own opinions and feelings. She states, “When I got to school, I realized that it seemed like a lot of other people were never told that their opinions mattered, as young women. But here, we are very much taught ‘Your opinion matters; you can change the world.’”
Although the Loretto Volunteer Program only lasts a year, and Maddy does not quite know what she would like to do immediately upon leaving the program, there are some long-term goals she has in mind for herself. “I would like to start a small organization of holistic health services, like mind/body/soul. I want to get into social work and become a certified massage therapist, using the knowledge of energies from massage therapy to take care of mental health through treating the whole person, rather than just sending people to therapy or counseling once a week.”
In coming back to Nerinx through the program, Maddy was nervous everything would feel too different, but she has found that this is not the case. “Although some of the building is different, the spirit feels completely the same. I was afraid that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to relate to students, but the moment I came back, I see students are doing so many awesome things, and it made me so hopeful for the world.” Touching on her goals for the year, Maddy says, “My main goal is to be a resource and to make sure that students have what they need in order to grow in their individuality.” Since she’s just graduated, she also had a few words of advice for seniors about to go off to college:
Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do because of other people.
Getting a degree in four years? You don’t have to do that.
Get involved with something you’re passionate about; don’t do something just because your friends are.
You might want to try and do everything, be involved with everything, but learn when and how to say no.
Don’t let making money be the thing.
Really evaluate: “Is what I’m doing making me happy?” It’s okay to start doing something and then realize, “This is not fruitful to me,” and find something else.
Be sure to stop by the Lockwood House and visit Maddy!