Vincentians of Wherever: Shelby’s Personal Mission Statement

by | Jul 23, 2017 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

“Living an authentic life focused on helping people and empowering others to be all they can be.”

I’m majoring in community psychology. This is a relatively new division of psychology which is focused on individuals and how they relate to and are affected by their communities. Community psychology emphasizes finding the root of a problem and determining how to put an end to it rather than helping people after the problem has already hurt them. I feel community psychology asks the question “What must be done?”

A story often used to describe what community psychologists do:

Two women are walking along a river and they see a drowning person floating by. One of the women jumps in, grabs the drowning person, and pulls him safely from the water. Before catching her breath she sees that her friend has jumped in to save another drowning person. The flow of drowning people continues and increases and the two women continue pulling them out of the water, tiring as they near exhaustion. And drowning people keep passing by too, as they can only rescue a few of them because there are more drowning people and there’s only two of them. Suddenly one of the women stops the rescue effort and takes off running up the river. Her friend does not understand why she’s seemingly abandoning these drowning people. Little does she know the other woman went upstream to find out why all of these drowning people have been falling into the river.

Of course hands-on service is still necessary, as there’s always an immediate need for help like in shelters or with people who live on the street; however, there’s more to it than just putting a band-aid on the problems. These problems need more than a temporary fix and that is not accomplished by only volunteering to serve food in shelters. It’s done by making changes in the system.

I plan to do both. I plan to counsel people with mental illnesses while also working in different communities with high rates of mental illnesses to discover why there is such a high occurrence and what can be changed to lower that number.

This trip* allowed me to get to know 19 other students who feel a calling on their life to make big change. I enjoyed getting to talk with each of them and learn about what they want to do and how they plan to carry out the Vincentian mission and I find it so interesting to listen to how they plan to incorporate St. Vincent’s ideas and values into their plans for their lives.

I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish.



*This is only a part of “I’m not Creative with Titles,” by Shelby A Johnson, first published on Medium.com. Shelby participated in a Vincentian Heritage Tour sponsored by DePaul University. Here entire reflection is worth a read.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Watts

    Thank you for sharing!

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