Editor’s note: Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School student Laura Almonte works with the FMS staff every Wednesday as part of the school’s Corporate Work Study Program. FMS has a mutual partnership with DBCR as they host a DC Service Corps volunteer year-round. In this blog, Laura shares some of her experiences working in the FMS office.

Would you ever imagine yourself working in an office at age fifteen? Getting to work at Franciscan Mission Service has really been the best working experience so far. My name is Laura Almonte, and I am currently a freshman at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High school and a student worker at FMS. I started working at FMS because of my school (one of the requirements for my schools is being able to work for an organization). Outside of school and working for FMS, I am a church dancer. Every Sunday I perform a traditional Dominican dance. I am also preparing to be confirmed in my church.

The best part about being here at FMS is learning more about the FMS mission. It is so wonderful how the missioners travel to another country and volunteer for those who need help. Another great thing about FMS is the kindness of the whole staff and how they take the time to help me along the way. I have learned a lot about how the office environment works and how to be more open. When I first started working here, I was very shy and I didn’t talk as much. Now I come to work excited to tell them about my week and just be here with them. Working in an office environment is great! Especially when I have the best co-workers in the world. They are just so fun and happy all the time, they make me enjoy my time here. From singing the High School Musical songs to acting out parts from Hairspray. It great to work in such a positive space.

My time at FMS has shaped my hopes for college in several ways. I have done a lot of projects that involve researching colleges, and a lot of these colleges looked very interesting to me. Before I started working for FMS, college wasn’t something I wanted to do right after high school, but now I’ve seen so many programs that have caught my eye. I’m still trying to decide if I want to be a nurse or a teacher, like my mother. Working at FMS has definitely made me feel excited and hopeful for college.

When it comes to faith I don’t really speak on it because I see faith differently. A few years ago my mother and father divorced. Why is she telling us this you might ask? As a child your faith is developing, but this was a point in my life where I felt like my faith was completely gone before it was even there. I felt like God was trying to send me a message, but I didn’t accept that this change was for the better. Growing up without a father figure was very hard; at church, my mom and I would be surrounded by other kids with both parents. As I got older, my mom told me to go to church and spend time reflecting to heal faster. When I starting working at FMS, I joined them in prayer every morning, and these prayers often spoke to me. My time here has brought me closer to God because of the prayer life in the office, which is different than the way I’m used to praying. It’s complicated for me because my mother and father have different beliefs. Of course they want me to embrace both, but I try to contribute as much as I can with morning prayer.

I can say I really have improved from when I first started working here until now. I love being a part of this wonderful community, they make me feel so appreciated.