Volunteer Stories - Matt Collins

An AMA In England: 
"Working in the L’Arche Community will be an experience I that will remember forever."

What’s a guy from Auburn, Mass. doing in Bognor-Regis, England? After graduating from Assumption College last summer, Matt Collins thought that spending a year as an AMA was the coolest thing to do, giving him a chance to meet new people, grow as a person and as a Christian, serve others and give something back to society. He’s spending these next twelve months living in aL’Arche community with the mentally handicapped. It isn’t always easy, but Matt wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. 

Here he shares some thoughts on his first few months as an AMA:

"Working in the L’Arche Community will be an experience I remember forever. I live and work with people who have learning disabilities and help them to function on their own to the best of their abilities. Although I’m giving one year of my life to help them, I am receiving much more in return. The job can be very stressful at times, but often, someone is there to brighten my day.

Callum is 40 years old and has a form of autism. A few of his favorite things are playing the organ, watching "The Sound of Music," and sneaking into the cupboards to find things that have a lot of sugar. One night in particular I can remember feeling ill and being stressed out about work. Callum came into the room and tapped me on the arm. He said to me, with a smile, as though he were making an announcement on television, “Matthew,  'Sound of Music' film will be back tonight on BBC 2!” As he said this, he backed up and purposely fell on the ground, staring at me through his legs which were now straight up in the air. Then, he began rolling around the room and repeating the quote he had just made up. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen! He made me completely forget about the bad day I had and the stress I was feeling.

Moments like this are always happening and it makes me think about what my job really is. Although I have to do all kinds of paperwork to make sure the house is in order, the most important part of my job is to be present and appreciate what is being given to me. "

—Matt Collins


Volunteer Stories and Reflections:

Chaparral, New Mexico
Kristen Penkala, 2007-08
Andrea de Castro, 2006-07
Maggie McCormick, 2005-06

Worcester, MA
Liz Supple, 2011-12
Pierre Tardivo, 2007-08
Liz Clayton, 2006-07

Mexico City, Mexico
Brendan Carey, 2009-2010

Bognor-Regis, England
Matt Collins, 2006-07
Beth Sheehan, 2006-07

Newcastle, England
Kathleen Gardner, 2011-12
Rebecca Ickes, 2009-10