Now, after tearful goodbyes, grueling cleaning sessions, last minute arguments, and memory-sharing sessions, I can officially say: “YAV year complete.” But for whatever reason, it’s difficult for me to actually say that. During our closing retreat, my housemates and I hovered between the necessity for closure, and the reality that this year was merely a piece of the pie – a sentence in the paragraph. While our terms as Young Adult Volunteers have come to a close, I think so much of what’s happened will continue as we each strive for a more peaceful world.
Thanks to each of you for carrying me along this journey. As you can see from reading the few blogs I’ve written, I’ve learned and experienced a lot over the past 12 months. Throughout the past few weeks as things have been winding down I’ve contemplated what my purpose has been here. I’ve spent too much time wondering if I failed completely. And probably also too much time patting myself on the back for a job well done. But I’m not too sure that’s really the point. As I think back, it has been in the simplest moments that the real affirmation has occurred. And I’d like to leave you with some of those more recent moments now:
- Bob Winton*, a former shelter participant sitting on the porch of at the transitional housing unit next to my office, pen in hand, interviewing another friend who recently found a permanent place to live… Bob is a participant I met with weekly during his stay at the shelter in March. Since then he has received his social security disability benefits and plans to write a collection of stories based on experiences of homeless individuals and homeless service providers. It was nice to see him smile as he handed me a scrap of paper on which his new phone number was written.
- Ramon Garcia* pulling out a set of keys to his new apartment as I greeted him at the Primavera drop in center.
- Stevie, a fellow housemate at 1229 saying “Ya know, I’m proud of us,” as we said our final goodbyes this morning. It’s true- five strangers learned how to form a strong intentional community and lived to share the stories!
- Watching the monsoon blow through town with my shelter friends. A blessing to see rain, and to still feel at home in a room of 100 men.
- Our next door neighbor bringing us Tupperware containers full of lunch to be enjoyed on our cleaned out living room floor the day before moving out.
I have been truly blessed.