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Providence teen volunteer grows closer to God by serving others

My name is Pia Carino. I’m 17 and a junior at Terre Haute South Vigo High School. Volunteering at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods as a teen minister has been an integral part of my life. I cherish it and hold it dear to my heart.

God calls us to serve in many ways. That could be through sharing God’s word, sharing one’s talent and even small acts of kindness throughout the day. I was only in middle school when Sister Joni Luna, a Sister of Providence and my teacher at the time, asked me if I would volunteer with a program she had started at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive and not quite sure what I was getting myself into. But I knew that I wanted to serve. And that was enough for me to say “yes” to her and to God’s calling. 

Blog post author and Teen Volunteer Pia Carino, second from left, plays a board game with Sister Rita Clare Gerardot, SP, and other teen volunteers.

Bringing happiness

I have now come to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for teen volunteer opportunities many times throughout the years and throughout my summers. It gives me a sense of joy to be able to bring a little bit of happiness to these sisters who were barely able to have visitors. It feels like a way of giving back. And it was meaningful since these sisters were the foundations and builders of this community I call home. During rigid Covid restrictions, I could hardly come to the Woods and serve due to the strict regulations of the time. And I felt a void in my heart because of it. I had not realized how much joy coming here and serving had brought me until I could no longer do it. 

Pia plays the piano during her volunteer ministry as Sister Joan Matthews, SP, looks on.

It was also here that my love for music was strengthened tenfold. I came to find that I often took for granted the gift that God had given me. Playing the piano for the sisters helped me realize how the little things we don’t think much of can brighten a person’s day, reminding them of times in their lives. The last time I visited the Woods, I was playing simple tunes on the piano while the sisters passed around pretty colorful scarves. The sisters were talking about themselves and reflecting. And one of them told me my music took her back to important times in her life as a teacher. It struck me to my core, almost bringing me to tears. I was using a gift that I took for granted. And it was transporting people back to some of the happiest times in their lives. I knew that music evoked emotions and memories, but I didn’t realize that my music could have that same effect. 

Meaningful volunteering

Volunteering here has helped me reach into the depths of my mind and soul. It has made me realize how much serving my community and making others happy means to me. This experience has made me so much closer to God as I use my God-given gifts to serve people, just as God always wanted. I love the gifts I was given and never again will I take them for granted. God has laid a path in front of me and I am his humble servant. 

Do you know someone ages 12-18 who would like to share their time with our elders this summer? Sign up for our Teen Volunteer summer opportunities here!

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Pia Carino

Pia Carino

Pia Carino is 17 years old and a Providence Teen Volunteer with the Sisters of Providence. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines and Pia was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. Pia attended St. Patrick School for elementary and middle school and now attends Terre Haute South Vigo High School where she is a junior.

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  1. Avatar Sister Gloria Memering on April 23, 2022 at 9:35 am

    Pia: Thank you so much for inspiring me and each of us with your story. Your presence and activities with us are true gift! Easter arrived early on Holy Saturday as you popped in with such enthusiastic JOY (& chocolate-covered strawberries)

  2. Avatar Marilyn Rausch on April 23, 2022 at 10:04 am

    Thank you, Pia, for your beautiful witness! God has blessed you with a giving heart and a talent that you have used to bring great joy to others. May those blessings continue to bring many graces into your life and, through you, into a world that needs people like you more than ever before. We are so grateful for you!!

  3. Avatar Maureen Abbott, SP on April 23, 2022 at 10:07 am

    Thanks, Pia! It’s been great getting to know you over the years you’ve been volunteering. We love your music!

  4. Avatar S. Connie Kramer on April 23, 2022 at 10:19 am

    Thanks Pia for taking the time to write the beautiful reflection you shared with us about what you and the gracious gifts God has given you have been able to be and to do. May you continue to find great joy in using your gifts to serve others.

  5. Avatar Sister Mary Montgomery on April 23, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks, Pia, for sharing your beautiful self and your gifts with us these years. God has blessed you and you are blessing others by sharing your gifts. Thanks for this lovely article. 🙏💖

    • Avatar S. Editha on April 24, 2022 at 4:54 pm

      Maraming salamat Pia! Thank you so much for sharing your gift of music. It gives us joy and it is therapeutic. Young as you Are, may you inspire others to share their talents and gifts.

  6. Avatar Barbara Bluntzer SP on April 23, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    It is so encouraging to hear how music and serving , both, have enabled you to to enjoy life, and be occupied each day with purpose. And what an opportunity for you to share what you are doing with other teens who may be looking for “something to do during the summer months”
    .Do you know that song , “It only takes a spark to get the fire going” ?…and you may be that spark !!! Keep up your enthusiasm, Pia!

  7. Avatar Dr. Tammy Rowshandel on April 25, 2022 at 9:14 am

    What an inspiration you are, Pia! I am so proud of you and your servant’s heart! -Dr. Rowshandel

  8. Avatar S. Joni on April 26, 2022 at 9:53 am

    Thank you Pia for your beautiful witness of being Providence in the 🌎. I have been blessed to witness your music 🎶 bringing healing, enthusiasm and joy to our Sisters.
    May you always know the beautiful gift you are to us.

  9. Avatar Ashley Luna on April 26, 2022 at 10:26 am

    It is a wonderful thing to find your calling and to inspire others with your given gifts at such a young age. Not only are you filling your heart with joy but also those around you. I hope you continue on your journey with God and serving others and go on to touch and fill many other hearts with your encouragement and love as the yeses continue on. <3

  10. Avatar Sister Dina Bato on April 26, 2022 at 11:49 am

    Thank you so much, Pia. May we never forget the abundant gifts God has given us to share with others.

  11. Avatar Dawn Tomaszewski on April 26, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Pia,
    I was really touched by your blog and especially by seeing the joy on Sister Joan Matthew’s face in that picture of you playing piano for her. Sister Joan often played piano for all of us, especially the sisters in health care. She went home to God yesterday and is now spreading music throughout eternity. Thanks for brightening her day and the lives of so many of our sisters with your loving and musical presence!!

  12. Avatar Amanda Lakstins on April 26, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Pia, this is an awesome article! You put so many emotions and important beliefs into words so beautifully. Thank you for sharing, for volunteering, and for being inspiring.

  13. Avatar Eileen Horan, PA on April 26, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    Pía, thank you so much for sharing your experience as a teen volunteer and for bringing so much joy to the Sisters. You are truly being Christ to them. May God bless you and continue to shine His light through you.

  14. Avatar Diana Serna on April 26, 2022 at 4:36 pm

    Thank you Pia for sharing your testimony. It is beautiful to hear that with the gifts and your talents you are going in the path that God has set out for you. May you continue doing what you are doing and may God’s love always be with you.

  15. Avatar Margaret DeLaFuente on April 26, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    Pia, you are such an inspiration! How beautiful that you are sharing your God given gift of music with the Sisters of Providence. Keep up the great work you are doing.

  16. Avatar Catherine Lareza on April 27, 2022 at 8:17 am

    Hi Pia. Greetings from Ireland! We are so proud of what you have become, a true servant of God and his people by sharing your gifts and talents and time. Love from Ninang Kathy.

  17. Avatar Iliana on April 27, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Sr Joni, what a wonderful ministry.
    Pia you are amazing. We love you

  18. Avatar S. Carole Kimes on April 28, 2022 at 8:47 am

    What a beautiful article Pia which speaks of your depth and maturity as a seeker of God. Thank you for sharing your talents and time and love with our sisters.

  19. Avatar Debbie Griffey, PA on April 28, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you, Pia, for your wonderful article and your volunteer ministry. Your essence shines through and you must surely be a blessing to those around you.

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