October Meeting Summary: Barbara Duszak
“I want to tell you a story about God,” Barbara Duszak began at our October meeting. “It’s not a story about me being a cool person, the people I work with, or Wilmington. It’s a story about God’s grace.” A Wilmington area native, Barbara grew up in a Catholic family. Throughout her life, though, Barbara felt that she didn’t make her faith her own. “Faith was something I did because my parents wanted me to do it,” she explained. “I prayed a lot, but I didn’t feel that God was answering me.” In college, Barbara struggled with depression, which reached a peak in her junior year after the suicide of her cousin and the deaths of a family member and a friend’s father. She began to isolate herself from others, because talking about the deaths was too painful.
That summer, however, Barbara learned about Urban Promise, an organization in Wilmington that aims to help children and young adults. She applied for and accepted a position at their academy, where she teaches students who, for various reasons, did not succeed in public school. In her small classes, Barbara is able to help students by using specialized, one-on-one learning methods that bring out their strengths: “We give them tools to be hopeful and give hope to others.” After working with the students, teachers, and volunteers, she felt herself opening up for the first time after the 3 deaths. “Being part of that community of believers saved my life from becoming an apathetic blob,” she said.
The most important lesson that Barbara has learned from her experience is that having humility and being a part of a community helps you experience Christ’s love more. “Every day, if I think I know what’s best, that isn’t right,” she said. “You have to admit that you can’t do everything on your own.” Barbara gave the example of one of her students, who would always refuse help with her math work. After a few months, however, the student no longer closed herself off. She began to willingly seek help, and she gradually improved.
Being part of a community means having people you can ask and depend on. Whatever out path is, having the ability to ask for help, as well as making the effort to help and include others, can go a long way. “It doesn’t matter what your calling is,” said Barbara. “It matters where your heart is.”
For those who would like to volunteer their time at Urban Promise, there are opportunities open the first Saturday of each month. Visit their web site here for more details.