The following is a reflection prepared by Jimmy Haubert, a fellow living in the Little Village Community. Jimmy serves at Erie Family Health Center at Johnson Elementary this year. The Little Village Community hosted two college immersion service trips this winter and he shares a little bit about their experience with the most recent group.
Let’s face it. Explaining to people why you chose to live a year of solidarity with those you serve, how you manage to do so, and where you find your motivation when the going gets tough is hard. Sometimes I feel as though the only way to express truly the answers to these questions is a simplified “You’d have to experience it yourself.” That’s where immersion groups come in! Every year, each Amate House community hosts two different groups of university students looking to gain a greater insight into the life of an Amate House fellow. Ranging from college freshmen to graduate students, these groups spend a week living in one of our Amate homes – volunteering at different sites throughout the week, sharing meals with us, and reflecting on their own experience.
Earlier in the year, our Little Village community hosted students from the University of Dayton, and this past week we welcomed students from St. Mary’s Parish at the University of Michigan. Adam, Mary-Catherine, Julia, and Tiffany visited various service sites in Chicago to learn more about the organizations’ purposes and missions, as well as to spend the day volunteering. Here are some of the places they went!
St. James Catholic Church Food Pantry: One of largest food pantries in Chicago, St. James food pantry serves residents facing high levels of unemployment and increasing scarcity of affordable housing. The volunteers spent the day processing donations, packing food, and organizing distribution. This is also an Amate House service site this year.
Port Ministries: Port Ministries offers free services and resources to south-side Chicago residents so they can better themselves and their families while strengthening the community. The volunteers assisted with their after-school tutoring program for elementary school students who live in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Misericordia: A massive facility in northern Chicago, Misericordia offers a community of care for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are physically challenged as well. The volunteers spent the day interacting with residents and helping out at different facilities on campus.
Of course, our life at Amate House is not solely about service. It is about community, too. Living in community allows us to affirm our intentionality in our work, as well as share our trials and our triumphs with those who we live with. We welcomed our immersion group to experience the joy of our Little Village community. Every night we shared wholesome, home-cooked meals, prayed together, and shared our reflections on our days of service. We shared a meditative spirituality night, and even got caught up in a fun word-association game called Codenames!
As a parting gift, Adam, Mary-Catherine, Tiffany, and Julia left us a thank-you card, thanking us for our hospitality and a chance to experience a week-in-the-life of an Amate House Volunteer. But I would like to share a parting thank you to them:
Thank you, thank you for giving of yourselves to be the voice for those in Chicago who have none to stand for them. Thank you for embracing Amate House’s mission and vision of love, and revitalizing our community with your perspectives and prayers. Thank you for blessing us with your presence in our community.