There are many highlights that I will look back on and remember about my year of service, but there are two in particular that I reflect upon most.
One is that you can obviously do great service work in any program, but what makes Amate House so unique is their focus on community. In Amate House, I lived in a community with ten wonderful people. Before I left Scranton, I was worried that I would never have the chance to experience community again. Amate House not only gave me that experience of another community to come home to everyday, but also gave me a great community with ALL my coworkers at Catholic Charities (my worksite). I remain in touch with most of them to this day and have two great groups to look back on from my experience in Chicago.
The second is stepping outside of my comfort zone. I had no family or friends in Chicago prior to coming to the city and I did the whole application and interview process over the phone. This included interviewing with my service site, Catholic Charities on the south side. I flew out to Chicago with the expectation it would work out but I certainly was not ready to witness some of the reality I saw. At first, I was incredibly intimidated and thought I could never do this for a year. Twelve months later, as my program finished, I left Amate House with 10 new close friends and a whole second community from Catholic Charities. They even took a picture of me and put it on the goodbye cake on my last day. In order to understand what made this whole experience so great, all you have to do is go for Amate House.
Something that I took from my year with Amate House is that – Everybody you meet has a story. At the start of our year, each member in our community told their life story in order for us to learn more about each other. At first, I did not understand the importance of this, but as my year progressed at Catholic Charities one thing I really enjoyed was hearing each coworkers’ story of why they were there, listening to each client I served talk about what was going on in their day or listening to a new story from a community member at dinner each night. Each person has their own narrative, and their story is just as valuable as the person next to them and deserves to be heard. I will remember this with each person I meet from here on out.