AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Genevieve


Genevieve is a unique and beloved member of the Amigos de Jesus family. She arrived at Amigos in October as a long-term volunteer and plans to serve for a year. Though independent from the larger group of long-term volunteers (they arrived in August and are largely in their twenties), Genevieve has carved her 'niche' within the Amigos family and has been a tremendous help to all of the staff and kids. Her backgrounds in non-profit work, education, and long-term service (she and Amigos director Amy Escoto met serving together in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC)!), as well as her Spanish, writing, and organizational skills, have been tremendous assets to the 'hogar.' Her love, faithfulness, and flexibility have been a wonderful example for the kids.
  1. Name: Genevieve Volpe
  2. Hometown: Wheeling, West Virginia
  3. What did you do for a living before coming to Amigos de Jesus? I worked for The West Side Community House, which is a community center (settlement house) in Cleveland, Ohio. I worked with youth and families, which included youth with severe behavioral issues or mental health issues. The program's focus was on community-based mental health care to help support the youth and their families. One of my main jobs included helping the youth and families work through their issues, difficulties, and find some peace and success. 
  4. What made you decide to serve as a long-term volunteer at Amigos? A couple of years ago, I visited the directors Amy and Wilson here at Amigos de Jesus, and I really enjoyed my visit. I knew there was something very special about this place [Amigos]. I was ready to move on from my previous job and to walk in a different direction. Before coming to volunteer at Amigos, I left my job and moved in with my sister to help here with her premature newborn twins. I lived with her for about two months. I knew I wanted to come back to Amigos and hopefully be of service in some way for a longer period of time. I wanted to utilize my skills and abilities in administration, education, and social work, so I thought, what better time then now? I also have always wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking country, and more specifically in a Central American country. 
  5. What is your role at Amigos? 
    • First, I help in the office. My main project has included implementing a new training manual for the trainings that will be given to the staff, teachers, and caretakers here at Amigos. 
    • Second, I am helping put together a case management system for every child at the ‘hogar.’ The case management will include individual meetings with every child and all those who see the child on a daily basis. The meetings will include the child’s caretakers, teachers, and other people in their lives, to talk about what is going on with the child mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and behavior-wise, both in the ‘hogar’ (home) and in the classroom. In addition to what they need help with, talking about the child’s goals and needs in order to come up with a universal way to act with the child - across teachers, volunteers, and caretakers - to help us help the child be successful, happy, and move forward into adulthood. 
    • Third, I also help with other duties needed around the ‘hogar’ when necessary.  I substitute teach sometimes at school, I help organize the storage space in the ‘hogar,’ and I am available to help as a caretaker in any of the ‘hogars’ when necessary. (She forgot to mention that she has also been writing lovely pieces on each of the kids, which we have been using in 'Amiguito of the Week' features).
  6. What is your favorite part of being here? Being a part of a community.  Living and working in the same space with the kids, ‘jovenes’ (teenagers), caregivers, staff, and the teachers.  Being a part of a truly loving and life-giving community, that is my favorite part.  
  7. What is your favorite memory from the year thus far? I guess it would have to be with Jorge Luis (a joven here at Amigos). He came up to me one time during the Christmas season and said “Miss, I have a gift for you.” I did not believe him for one second because he had his hand behind his back and looked very mischievous. I responded by saying, “Oh no, no, no, no, you are going to put an animal in my hand.” The boys around him explained, “Oh no, no, no, Miss, he has a gift for you, like a Christmas ornament.” I believed the boys would never tell a lie, so I went along with it. Trusting that nothing bad was going to happen, I closed my eyes and put out my hand out to receive the gift. Lo and behold, Jorge Luis put a frog in my hand. I could not believe it and all I could think was, “Oh my God, there is a frog in my hand. He really put a frog in my hand!” Delayed in my response, I screamed, and Jorge doubled over laughing. This is one of my most fond memories thus far at the ‘hogar’ because before this had happened, Jorge Luis had never talked to me.  t was one of first times he had ever approached or talked to me and ever since this we have had a beautiful joking relationship. For Jorge Luis, this is a big deal, he tends to be more closed off and to himself and will not bother to interact with someone unless he has some level of confidence. From the frog incident on, Jorge Luis calls me ‘bruja’ and asks me where my frog is.

Genevieve and Juan de Dios