Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Hi again! I hope that you are well. Today I get the honor of sharing a bit more of my experience in the Franciscan Outreach Volunteer Program, specifically focusing on community. If you did not read my last post you can find that here:

I am incredibly honored and grateful to be a part of the Franciscan Outreach Volunteer Program family. My experience living and serving at the Marquard Center in Chicago is one of the first things that I talk about when I meet someone new and has impacted my life in a huge way ever since.

While thinking about community and service, I keep coming back to this moment that I shared with Elias. We were sitting in one of the hallways in the morning before our shift. He had been showing me pictures of Germany and talking about traveling. Somehow our discussion started to revolve around a particular type of traveler that Elias had encountered. He explained to me how a large amount of individuals run through Europe, taking picture after picture, but never really stopping to enjoy the sights, only to really see them after they have returned from their trip and go through their camera. I thought about that for a moment and then asked him, “But what if they lose their camera?” Elias then started laughing while I reacted in the complete opposite way, becoming somber, as we both pictured the scenario in our head.

I never want to be the kind of person that takes pictures without really seeing. 

I do not want to listen to songs and not know the words.

I do not want to miss the changing seasons or just go through the motions, missing all of those sweet little moments that add up to make a life.

I want to live intentionally in a way that might make my heart hurt a bit more at times but ultimately gives the world the best of me.  

In my mind, living in community are all of these things wrapped into one.

I have always had a heart for service but my experience in the Franciscan Outreach Volunteer Program really challenged me and forced me to go deeper. Deeper into service, deeper into my own personal beliefs, deeper into trusting others and accepting help, deeper into discovering the kind of person that I aspire to be. I did not fully understand why I felt so called to the FOV Program before committing, but it came to me when a guest asked me as I ran around on a chaotic Friday doing laundry intakes, “Why are you here, Cady? Why did you decide to do this?” I stopped, looked around at the guests that had worked their way into my heart and at the soup kitchen that I called home, and simply said, “I can not help what I do not know.”

Living in community allowed me to get more out of the experience as a whole by having the opportunity to learn from each of the other volunteers—from different perspectives, passions, opinions, backgrounds, stories, tastes, and everything in between. Community can be really beautiful, in a sometimes uncomfortable way. The moments shared with some of the most passionate and dedicated individuals that I have ever met continue to inspire me to this day.  I remember reading each of my community members introductory bios before starting my year of service and thinking how amazing and accomplished they all were. They were a part of BIG things happening in our society in my mind and I was sitting there wondering how I could possibly fit in. They did, and always will, make me a better, more authentic version of myself. They challenged me, helped me, and taught me about grace on a daily basis. They will always be a part of me and mean more to me than I could ever express. So THANK YOU if you are reading this. You have impacted my life and I am forever grateful for you. I do not say that enough.

Thank you for sharing your perspectives and enlightening me on topics that I had not previously thought much about.
Thank you for making me laugh SO much.
Thank you for not just being a support system, but my Chicago family.
Thank you for accepting me exactly how I am- nothing less and nothing more- but also allowing me to change without judgement.
Thank you for being a listening ear when I needed it most.
Thank you for inspiring me to get out of my comfort zone more.
Thank you for encouraging me to pursue my passions.
Thank you for being a light in my darkness.
Thank you for being you. 

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