A Time to Dance

Alivera, a refugee from Rwanda, could hear for the first time in her right ear in twenty odd years after a surgeon at MetroHealth Hospital in Cleveland removed the scar tissue that was blocking her ear canal.

Twenty years earlier, a machete swung in Rwanda cut her up the side of her head. In Cleveland, that wound was set straight. She could hear! She thanked the medical students and the surgeon. She cried and hugged and kissed the doctor. “I love you,” she said through the Kirnawanda interpreter on the telephone. “God bless you all.”

My job was to drive Alivera home which was on the other side of the city. This was on the day of her first follow-up after her surgery. The day the bandages came off and, miraculously, she could hear.

Driving around that day I was glued to the news on the radio. Donald Trump was being sworn in with the oath of office in D.C.

When I picked up Alivera, she was the happiest I’d seen her. At first, I continued to listen to the news. But once we were on the highway, it dawned on me, “These are the first sound she’s hearing,” and I changed the radio to an oldies station.

And we heard that rock and roll music: “I feel good — da na Na na Na na Na — I knew that I would.”

We danced “I feel nice — da na Na na Na na Na — like sugar and spice.”

We don’t speak the same language, but she knew what “good” meant, and we laughed. And it was good.

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Eccl 3:1-4)

Dan McCarthy isimg_6874-e1496690328477.jpg a graduate of Cleveland State University and works as the Health Care Navigator at Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services. He plans to return to Cleveland State in the fall to start law school.
Cap Corps Volunteers work full time in education, healthcare, and social service placements for one year while living simply in community with other volunteers. The position at Migration and Refugee Services is reationship based where the volunteer journeys closely through clients in the resettlement process. www.capcorpseast.com


A Day in the Life of a Cap Corps Volunteer

Walking to School5:45am – An early start to the day! I mozy my way out of bed to shower, get dressed, and eat the most important rushed meal of the day. Then I catch my bus to my placement at Sacred Heart School.

7:30am – Here they come! With coffee in hand, my daily commitment of greeting our (sometimes drowsy) students and their parents at the door begins.  With a warm smile and a “Buenos Dias”, this everyday moment, has become a great joy for me.

8:00am – Time to transition to morning prayer in the theater and homeroom. Although, classes are in session, I am still greeting our late comers by name and answer any parent questions.

11:30am – After a few quiet moments in the office and preparing for enrollment events, lunch and recess begin. It is time for the to kids let go of their stored up energy. Thursdays are my days to cover lunch with the spontaneous, fun loving 1st and 2nd graders, which I very much look forward to!

1:15pm – Time to take a breather outside to spend time with our 7th and 8th graders SHGardenduring their recess time. Ms. Heil, our principal, takes a moment to water our community garden during this time.The Sacred Heart community takes pride in taking time to stop and enjoy the beauty of what has been given to them, and what they have received.

3:15pm- Greet Sacred Heart’s parents in the car pick up line to send off our kids home. Then I rush off to go finish up any last minute work and respond to emails.

4:07pm –  My afternoon commute begins. Depending on the crowded bus in rush hour wasn’t always pleasant but this is an experience that I will never forget. It really put into perspective the life of those that Cap Corps serves. Seeing mothers, fathers, children, and the frail elderly all depend on the bus because it was their only option, was a life changing experience. If it was hot, cold, raining, or snowing, they had to be on that bus to provide for themselves and family. Ministry of presence happens as I take all the different walks of like all on one bus.  

6:30pm – Our house friar, Br. Phil arrives for community night. All the volunteers gather around our round table to share about their days whether there were highs or lows. This moment is Cap Corps.  Having a simple meal, enjoying time with community with the support of our house friar, talking about our volunteer experience.

Praying with Paint8:00pm- Community prayer and our community activity tonight is praying with paint!  I will always treasure these nights because every conversation helped me reflect on my year and formed connections between those that I was serving with.

10:00pm – Packing lunch session in the kitchen with other volunteers to recap the night,  and share our hopes for tomorrow.

10:20pm- Finally off to bed, to do it all again. Doing this year of service may be tedious at times, but my days were always filled with honest joy and self-giving love.

Cap Corps isn’t just a year of service. It is a program that is filled with limitless possibilities, concrete friendships and community, and meaningful challenges that help you grow into a self aware and faithfully sustaining individual.


Shenelle Sanoir graduated from Marymount University and worked at Sacred Heart School as a Cap Corps Volunteer for the 2015-2016 Volunteer Year. She continues to work at the school as a teacher and project manager.

For one year, Cap Corps Volunteers work full time in education, healthcare, and social service placements while living simply in community with other volunteers. Our education placement at Sacred Heart School includes a balanced opportunity of teaching and support services. www.capcorpseast.com