Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Want to Know Your Story

C.V.
 
Currently as I write this I’m staring at a picture that a guest drew of me and there is another one singing Hound Dog outside my window. Moments like this remind me how lucky I am to have the opportunity and privilege to get to know the guests that come into the Marquard Center. Listening to my own personal concert is quite lovely and makes me think of my grandmother who had a deep love for all things Elvis Presley.

Sara recently told me that I am secretly artsy which led to a discussion about my own personal taste in music. More often than not you will find me listening to someone that hasn’t quite been discovered yet or a B-side track rather than something mainstream. To me, that is usually where you will hear the more meaningful words. The stories that might not be as popular but need to be heard the most.  
 
 
I think the way I express my art most is through people. When I meet someone, I want to know their story, the things that they are passionate about, I want to see their face light up as they tell me about their art. I want to know what makes them feel alive. I paint the picture of their life in my mind and their stories live on through me. Serving at the Marquard Center gives me the chance to hear a lot of stories because many of the guests don’t have much social interaction outside of our soup kitchen. I’ve lost track of time listening to guests and found myself replaying their stories in my head as I lie in my bed at night.
 
A moment that stands out is when a guest that had only been in once before became so excited that I remembered his name. He told me that I made him feel like a somebody and then as if he could see into my soul, he felt compelled to tell me that someday I would meet someone that would make my heart melt and I would fall completely in love. I listened on as he told me about the great love of his life and how he lost everything after he lost her. It was a story full of addictions, heartache, and depression that left a lasting mark on my own heart.
 
Then there was the Marine that I found sitting on one of our benches one evening. I mentioned that my cousin was a Marine and he immediately began telling me his war stories and what it felt like to come back home. He didn’t hold back and told me about how much therapy he needed to even be able to talk about his experiences with me. I felt honored to be let in and thankful that I had decided to walk outside at that moment. When he got up to leave, I thanked him for his service and extended my hand to shake his. He then took my hand and left me speechless when he thanked me for my service.
 
Every story is unique in its own way. Some guests would rather talk to me about sports or what kind of music I’m currently listening to rather than talk about the past. There is one thing that remains true in my heart though: Everybody deserves to have their story heard. And, everybody deserves to know that there are people out there that care enough to ask. So next time you see someone on the streets please stop and ask them about their story. You might find me running around the streets of Chicago doing the same.
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meet the 2014-15 Community!

2014-15 Community:  Back row (L to R)-Elias, Manu, Sebi, Nick, Theresa, Karen
Middle row-Sara, Cady, Kristen, Brett, and Theresa
Front row-Maddy and Valentin
Kristen is serving as Community Assistant for the second year. While a southerner at heart, she has been in Chicago for many years working in urban ministry and absolutely loves the diversity and energy of the city. She served for a year for Mission Year Chicago
and has a M.A. Social Justice and Community Development froLoyola. Kristen currently works at Breakthrough Urban Ministries with the Youth Network.

Valentin came all the way from Leutkirch, South Germany. Valentin is 19 and just finished high school.  He is a big fan of sports and has been involved  with various ones as long as he can remember.  While living in Chicago, Valentin hopes to pursue happiness in life and share it with other people. He serves at Marquard Center.

Nick has lived in Illinois all of his life, growing up in the south suburb of Frankfort. He is a recent graduate from the University of Illinoiat Urbana-Champaign  where he studied history. He is strongly considering returning to school to pursue a PhD in U.S Empire anForeign Relations. An interesting fact about Nick: he was born with duck feet and his legs had to be broken into place when he was a child. Nick is serving as a CVN AmeriCorps member at the FranciscaHouse of Mary and Joseph.

Theresa is from Massachusetts and just graduated from Lesley University where she studied Holistic Psychology & Sociology. Her hobbies include tap dancing, gardening, cooking, and trying new foods. In college, she was a member of the dance team as well as co- president of a club which served the homeless in the city. She hopes to do more volunteer work in the future and eventually pursue heMSW. Theresa serves as a CVN AmeriCorps member at the
Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph.

Cara hails from West Hurley NY, a town between Woodstock and Kingston NY, which is two hours north of NYC. She has an older brother and sister and a dog named Abby and enjoys running, traveling and spending time with family and friends. She graduated from Oneonta, a state school in upstate NY this past May, with degrees in Child and Family Studies and Women's and Gender Studies. During college, Cara ran on the cross country and track teams, mentored at-risk youth in elementary and middle schools in the area, volunteered for the Human Ecology club, and interned with the health educator at the school. Cara serves at the MarquarCenter as a CVN AmeriCorps member.

With a passion for sports, Cady grew up participating on soccer, track and field, and cross-country teams. Her love of distance running and desire to compete at a higher level led her to CaliforniState University, San Marcos where she was a 5-Time All American in
Cross-Country and Track and member of a three-time NAIA National Championship Cross-Country team. Cady became morinvolved in volunteer work while in college and would love to use her degree in Business Administration to help others. In her free time, Cady enjoys watching sports, traveling, listening to music, pretty much anything active, eating dark chocolate, reading and spending time with her family and friends. Cady is serving at the MarquarCenter as a CVN AmeriCorps member.
  
Madelene is originally from Madawaska, Maine: the most northeastern point of the state that borders Canada. She graduated from the University of Maine at Orono last January and earned a B.A. in social work, focusing in issues of homelessness and substance abuse. During her spare time she likes to explore Chicago, make new friends, and catch up on sleep. Maddy serves at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph as a CVN AmeriCorps member.

Sara didnt travel far, as she grew up in Joliet, IL. Sara graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in social work. She loves to run, create, and explore. Last summer, she studied for a month in Costa Rica and would love to walk El Camino de Santiago one day. Her pursuits are truth and peace, and hope for her year of service with FOA is that she can better learn how to do small things with great love. Sara is serving at the Marquard Center as a CVN AmeriCorps member.

Manuel traveled all the way from Bad Hersfeld, Germany. He just completed school at the Modellschule Obersberg, focusing on history and chemistry. Manu enjoys playing  billards and really loves cats.  He has had a scar on his forehead since he was little.  Paired with his glasses, his friends like to call him Harry Potter. Manu has gone bungee jumping and skydiving in the past!  He serves at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph.

Elias comes from Zweibrücken, Germany and just finished school this past March. His favorite hobby is flying gliders in the summer. He loves everything of aviation. After this year, he wants to study airspace technology in Braunschweig, Germany and become a pilot. Elias came to Chicago to discover a new culture and meet interesting people.  He also wants to improve his English and develop his personality. Elias is serving at the Marquard Center.

Sebi is from the rural area of Hattimgen, Germany. He enjoyed studying German and History in school.  Sebi has many friends back home and misses spending time with them.  He also likes to play guitar, swim, and play soccer. After this year, Sebi is planning to study event management. He is serving at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph.

Karen grew up on a farm near Brewster, Minnesota, a very small town of only about 500 people in Southwestern Minnesota.  She graduated this May from the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota with a major in Biology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Karen eventually wants to go back to graduate school and study genetics. One interesting fact about Karen is that she graduated high school with a class of only 15 people. She serves at the Marquard Center as a CVN AmeriCorps member.

Brett is from the south. Southern Illinois, that is. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor in Sociology and a minor in Business. He studied abroad for 6 months in Tanzania and desires to go back one day. One night as a child, Brett avoided going to school by opening his neighbors cow pen and was forced to collect all the wandering cows the next day instead of going to school. His future plans include getting a masters in Statistics and Contemporary Slavery. He is serving at the Marquard Center as a CVN AmeriCorps member.