Erin Richards '15

After graduating from Lewis University, Erin Richards ’15 began working as a volunteer with the New York Intern Program with the goal of truly making a difference in the world.  Erin’s unique and inspiring volunteer experiences through University Ministry at Lewis made the decision to do post-graduate volunteer work particularly easy.

“All of my volunteer work, trips and retreats at Lewis helped shape me into the person I am today,” says Erin. “I was blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing individuals who helped me see that I can make a difference.”

The New York Intern Program is a part of the Episcopal Service Corps in which young adults commit to a year of service, discernment, social justice and intentional community, based in a diverse and historic Harlem church. Erin lives in community with four other members of the program at St. Mary’s Church in West Harlem, and works at the Church of Heavenly Rest in Manhattan.  As the Community Outreach Assistant for this parish, she focuses on three ministries: food and nourishment, prison and reentry and aging.

She is responsible for managing logistics such as scheduling meetings, ordering supplies and coordinating events. Some of her favorite moments as a volunteer include coordinating volunteers for the three holiday meals, helping an individual returning home from prison tell their story to make a difference in society, or delivering a basket to a homebound senior with the Sunday school kids.

 “The most rewarding part of volunteering is seeing the impact I can have, even in the smallest of moments,” says Erin with a smile.

Happy to help those around her, Erin also reflects on the opportunity that volunteering has given her to grow as an individual, saying that she “learns more about herself every day.”

“I am able to help others just as much as they help me during my service work,” she adds.

Erin graduated from Lewis University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal/Social Justice and Psychology and attributes much of her personal success to the unique experiences she had during her time on campus.

“Lewis is a school that people from all different backgrounds come together,” Erin says. “It is a safe place to explore and learn more about who you are as a person, which helped me to become more confident in myself.”

Erin was heavily involved in University Ministry and attended five different LUMINATE trips, leading four of them. She also went on one international mission trip to Sucre, Bolivia, and attended the social justice retreat, Catalyst. In addition, she was a co-director of the Catalyst retreat her senior year. During her sophomore year, she became a member of Sigma Delta Fratority on campus. Needless to say, the Lewis Mission has had an extensive impact on her.

“Lewis has several opportunities for you to try new things and experience places that you might not have otherwise,” Erin says. “The University helped prepare me for my year of volunteer work by giving me opportunities that allowed me to go out of my comfort zone.”

Erin encourages other Lewis alumni and students to step out of their comfort zone, just like she did. “Never pass up a new opportunity because you are nervous; follow your heart and do what is going to make you happy.”

August 2016

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