An Interview with Theresa Powers, BLC Intern Fall 2011

Theresa Powers, Lesley University

 

 

What kind of work do you do here at the BLC?

I’ve been doing everything here!

I’ve been working in the kitchen one or two days a week, helping to prepare and serve food to the members. I’ve also been working with the wonderful Lisa, our volunteer coordinator, doing tasks for her that she needs help with.

You are an intern from Lesley University, why do you think Lesley supports Service Learning? 

Lesley starts their internships earlier than most schools, so I am only in my sophomore year. It’s important to get students out into the field as soon as possible to gain experience that will help them to obtain jobs in the future. Service Learning is important because students are able to serve a community or population and learn so much about it at the same time. I am personally very involved in the community service program at Lesley, so I am very grateful that I was able to do an internship that also serves a population in need.

What are you studying at Lesley and how has your time here prepared you for post graduation? 

I am studying Holistic Psychology with a Sociology minor. In the Sociology aspect, my time at the BLC has exposed me to a population that I never would have imagined working with! It has broadened my interests and shown me that there are so many opportunities for after I graduate. In respect to Holistic Psychology, I have realized that the holistic therapies can work virtually anywhere and I will have so many opportunities in the future. Being here at the BLC has taught me to be open to everyone, as well as reiterated the fact that there is so much to learn about everyone you meet.

You have an interest in holistic therapies, based on your experience here how do you think they help the chronically ill?

Holistic therapy is so important to healthy living, especially here at the BLC. Holistic therapies look at everything as a whole, which includes mind, body, spirit and environment. All of these aspects are so important, because the chronically-ill not only need to take care of their body, but their environment plays a huge role as well. Specifically here, the BLC provides a community and a healthy, positive environment and is important for the support of all the members.

Our membership seems to really enjoy your company here- how do you feel as a volunteer about your interactions with our members? 

I love being at the BLC so much! I leave here every day feeling so happy and great, and that’s a feeling that I can’t get anywhere else. I am so glad that I get to brighten days just by smiling and having little conversations with the members. The members are starting to recognize me now, and that is another awesome feeling. I’m glad that I can be here to help J

Has your perception of who we help changed over the few months you’ve been here?

I was very skeptical at first, coming here and not really knowing what I was getting myself into. I didn’t really have any assumptions about the population; I really just had no clue what to expect. I have learned to be open and accepting of everyone, because every member has a story to be told.

Is there anything else you’d want people to know about the BLC?

The BLC is really a beautiful organization that helps the HIV+ community in more ways than I can ever explain. It is a wonderful place for people to come together and just be people and hang out with others who are just like them. I know that the BLC has changed so many lives, and I know that it can only excel from here on out. I am so grateful that I have been a part of the BLC for the past few months and that I have been welcomed with open arms. I will definitely be back to volunteer in the future, there’s absolutely no way that I can ever leave!

The BLC would like to offer our most grateful appreciation to Theresa who has volunteered her time with us all semester long and contributed in so many ways to our community. 

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Hue Gioi-Meditation Class Volunteer

Recently, Volunteer Coordinator for the BLC, Lisa Brown, sat down to interview Hue Gioi, a practicing Buddhist monk about his volunteer experience at the Boston Living Center.  Hue Gioi has been offering meditation classes at the BLC on Tuesday afternoons for the past few weeks.

Tell me a bit about your choice to become ordained as a monk…

I was inspired by my sister.  She had a little bit of a wild side, and after college she moved to Hawaii.  She had this long beautiful blond hair, and when she came back she had shaved her head.  She was really different, she was centered and strong and she had been practicing meditation.  I was about 16 at the time, and it had a big effect on me.  I used meditation for about six years to support my acting, before and during college.  I wanted to be an actor because I was interested in people.  While acting and meditating I became more and more interested and just before I was going to head to LA to pursue my acting career, I decided to go on a retreat to find out who I was.  I had met a monk who embodied what I had been studying and practicing.  I was going to be on my retreat for three months and that turned to six months, and I realized it takes a lifetime.  I found this life very fulfilling and decided in about six months that I wanted to become ordained.  I’ve been a practicing monk for almost six years now.

Why did you choose to offer your skills to the BLC?

I had wanted to volunteer, and as a child I had been sick a lot and in the hospital repeatedly with illnesses, being ill had been a big part of my life.  While I was in Burma I contracted typhoid in the jungle and had to be rushed to the hospital alone from the monastery.  There had been a cyclone and the hospital was very rustic and had no windows, allowing in rain and flies.  Food was not provided by the hospital; a monk had come to stay with me and slept on the floor.  However, strangers offered their help to me bringing food, some ladies came by to sing to me and rub my feet. I also helped myself by meditating, it’s a great way to help become calm and it’s an easily learned skill. I promised myself to help others in similar situations. 

 How long have you been practicing and teaching meditation?

I’ve been practicing for about Four years and teaching for about two years.

 Why is meditation beneficial for someone living with HIV? (also see video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZi9XL1mbpg)

Well putting aside the fact that someone who has HIV; meditation can be helpful for anybody who is under any stress. It helps you to be able to center yourself, to come back to yourself, and to calm down in many kinds of difficult situations.  Specifically with people with HIV or sickness- any other illnesses…Meditation has been shown in different studies recently to boost the immune system, and to elevate your mood, and I think these are two factors that play a really important role, not just…you know, in keeping somebody healthy but in somebody’s quality of life. And I think that’s what I’m interested in helping…because I can’t do it, I can’t meditate for somebody else, but helping others to kind of help themselves and enriching their quality of life.

What do you enjoy most about working with the membership of the BLC?

 The overall support and care and appreciation within the staff- and members are also appreciative, and there is an earnest…honesty of trying something new and different.  There is a mutual respect throughout the center- everyone helps everyone- teacher, student, staff and guests.

Anything else you want people to know about Buddhism or Meditation?

If there is one thing I want people to know it’s that- no matter race, or religion, or beliefs, you can practice meditation to deepen your religion or your knowledge of self.

Hue Gioi Volunteer Buddhist meditation teacher