Friday, July 10, 2015

My Story


My year of service has felt like a roller coaster of emotions that has had me experience both the lowest lows and the highest highs of my life—sometimes in the same day. I have learned more than I think I can even comprehend at the present time and am so, so very grateful for this experience. I am positive that my year of being an AmeriCorps member in the Franciscan Outreach Volunteer program will greatly influence the rest of my life. There are so many moments and conversations that come to mind when I reflect back on this past year that it would be difficult to focus on simply one. One of the biggest and most important reminders that I have taken away from working so closely with the homeless population in Chicago is that everyone has a story and it is extremely important that we take the time to listen and learn those stories.
I think that it is natural for people to assume that homelessness is a choice, and that it is much easier to get off the streets than it is in reality. By creating awareness, I think we can change the view of homelessness in our society, and in turn homelessness itself. Furthermore, I think we can all afford to be a little kinder and understanding to people, homeless or not.
This year has taught me how to love others better as well as how to love myself better. I have never felt more appreciated and confident in myself. Both the guests that come into the Marquard Center and the other Franciscan Outreach Volunteers have had a positive impact on me and opened my eyes to the diverse backgrounds that they come from.

I have laughed, cried, felt depleted, grown, and changed more than I would have ever imagined was possible in one year. The Marquard Center has become more than a place I live and serve at, it has become my home. The people that come here matter, and the services and hospitality we provide matter. I cannot stress enough how necessary it is that our guests have a place that welcomes them and provides a community when they are so often ignored and turned away. My hope is that they feel known and loved.

This past year wasn’t just a year of service to me; it was about further building a foundation of a lifetime of helping others. I wanted to make a difference to a population that I had not yet fully embraced and been exposed to. This year was about me diving in without reserve and broadening my perspective of the world and the individuals that live in it. I’m leaving my service site even more inspired to make a positive impact on others and confident that I will always have a home and community to come back to at the Marquard Center.

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