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Growing at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice

Brandon Query has been nurtured and allowed to grow during his time at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice.

Brandon Query has been nurtured and allowed to grow during his time at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice.

Being an important part of the Sisters of Providence eco-justice ministry as an intern or volunteer can be life-changing.

Brandon Query was an AmeriCorps volunteer and a seasonal garden staff member at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) for about 18 months in 2014 and 2015.

“While at White Violet Center, I completely changed myself as a person,” he said. “The education that it offers to people is second-to-none in terms of learning about sustainability, eco-justice and the importance of those areas for the future of humanity.”

He said he will always call it home.

“The atmosphere and the people I work around every day are so positive and uplifting. We’re constantly learning about the current trends in eco-justice and sustainability. While out here I’ve just kind of realized the importance of those things for the future. The people out here are who really make this place something special. The relationships I’ve built with countless interns, volunteers and staff I know will last a lifetime. This will always be my home.”

Jill Nagy, of Terre Haute, Indiana, shared how much WVC has helped transform her oldest daughter, Anna. Their family was first introduced to WVC when Anna’s preschool class toured the center many years ago.

“I remember her enthusiasm at each place we stopped, as we learned about compost, honey bees, and of course, alpacas.”

Anna Nagy shows one of the White Violet Farm Alpacas at the Vigo County Fair in Terre Haute, Indiana. The alpacas and White Violet Center have made an impact on Anna.

Anna Nagy shows one of the White Violet Farm Alpacas at the Vigo County Fair in Terre Haute, Indiana. The alpacas and White Violet Center have made an impact on Anna.

The Nagy family has attended and/or participated in almost every Earth Day celebration.

For several years, White Violet Farm Alpacas has sponsored the Vigo County alpaca 4-H club, of which Anna and her two sisters are members.

“Anna has gone on to become the president of the Vigo County 4-H Alpaca Handlers Club and even assisted Tracy [Wilson, WVC alpaca manager] in a couple of her alpaca classes for the public,” Jill said. “She has run the trails on the campus and fallen in love with it. With much skepticism, she went last year to an Overnighter and Pomeroy Day at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), thinking she was bound to end up at a larger campus. That one night with the girls of SMWC transformed her thinking about small colleges, and she proudly received her acceptance letter this week for next school year!” Jill said in November.

A current intern has also been transformed by this Sisters of Providence ministry.

Jackie Schwenk has been a full-time intern since May. She grew up in Jasper, Indiana.

“I think I worry less now and think more in terms of needs instead of wants. I appreciate simpler beauty like the outdoors and especially veggies that I overlooked before, like turnips and radishes,” Jackie said. “I’d say it’s just an in-general feeling that things will work out some way, somehow.”


Providence Associate Kaitlyn Willy, at right, (shown here with Rebecca Kloskowski, a 2013 summer intern,) found transformation, challenge and healing during her time as an intern at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice.

Providence Associate Kaitlyn Willy was also changed by the Sisters of Providence and WVC.

She participated in a short-term internship while studying for her comprehensive exams at the University of Notre Dame in 2013. At the time she was a Providence Associate candidate and had volunteered at the Earth Day celebration.

“What this internship was for me was a time of transformation, challenge, and healing. Working every day in the sun was exhausting, but exhausting in the best way. Sister Dawn [Tomaszewski, her Providence Associate companion] used to tease me that she had never seen me happier than when I was in my overalls covered in mud — and I think she was probably right. I was challenged to learn new things and accept new realities. I was surrounded by people who were patient and kind and who challenged me to be a better person. Coming out of a painful community experience, I found the community at the WVC to be healing and help me to refocus myself to be a better minister at Butler (University). It was during my time at the WVC as an intern that I first felt the force of a calling that has since led me …  to pursue a Ph.D in environmental literature.

(Originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Cheryl Casselman

Cheryl Casselman worked as a marketing manager for the Sisters of Providence for twenty years. She grew up in Camby, Indiana and now lives in Sullivan County, Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Indiana State University and master's degree in Leadership Development from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

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