A Faith Journey to the Emerald Isle: How Volunteering Changed My Life


After graduating from college in 2010, I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that God put this strong desire in my heart to help people and I began searching for job and volunteer opportunities to do this. After lots of prayer and trusting in God, I decided to volunteer in Ireland.

I spent 15 months in Cork, Ireland as an assistant for L’Arche. L’Arche is an international organization where those with and without intellectual disabilities live and share life together in community. It was a year of so much joy and laughter, life lessons, and friendships but also lots of changes, two deaths in the community, and struggles. One of the biggest challenges and also blessings was caring for a resident (those with disabilities) who was terminally ill until she passed away this past October. I learned so much while I was there about myself and my own strengths and weaknesses. L’Arche helped me to see the gift of everyone’s life and that we all have our own disabilities and areas that need growth. I take with my all the love and friendships, all the memories and joy, and the power of God’s love.

I never knew what saying yes to a volunteer year would lead me to, how it would bring me so much life and personal growth, and that I would even decide to stay longer than a year. Saying yes to God’s call and putting my complete trust in Him opened a door of blessings and changed my life. I returned home to New Hampshire right before Christmas and I think being there changed my life more than it changed the people I was helping. I learned that God’s plan may not be exactly what I had in mind, but if I put my full faith in Him, He will guide me and lead me where I am meant to be.

From Derry, NH, Kate graduated with a BA in psychology from Keene State College. She hopes to continue working with people with disabilities and loves to travel. She looks forward to where God is leading her next and is learning everyday to put her full trust in Him.