By Janelle Lord
’17-’18 Service Year
// com·mu·ni·ty // (n) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
- One of the core four principles that DeSales Service Works is founded on is community. As a year long volunteer we are called to live in intentional community and although not all of the communities that I am a part of have been intentional I decided to go ahead and reflect on community. Have you ever truly thought about the different communities that you are a part of? When thinking about community I could go on and on about the many different communities I have been involved in, am still involved in, and new communities I have become a part of these past few months.
- Prior to moving out to Camden I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of what the definition of community was. Last year while living in the Power House was the first time I had lived in what I would call intentional community. However this year I have been challenged even more to be intentional with my community mates. Each week we have two family dinners as well as curriculum discussions, mass, reflection nights and family nights. It is safe to say we spend a lot of time with each other. Living in community with people you’ve never met before and spending a large amount of hours together on a regular basis requires you to build up trust and being vulnerable with each other, it also requires you to make sacrifices. It requires you to get to know yourself and recognizing when you need to take a step before you blow up at a housemate for a totally unrelated reason. Living in community has also provided me with people that I can say with high certainty that I will stay in touch with for years to come.
- A different type of community that I have really become more aware of this past year is my Badger community. This past summer when I was travelling I was in the security line coming back from the Dominican Republic when someone stopped me because I was wearing a Wisconsin Badgers shirt. A little over a month later when with two of my college roommates at Crater Lake in Oregon, we ran into yet another Badger. When moving out East I figured I would run into Badger fans occasionally but I was very excited to find out that there was a Badger bar in Philadelphia where alumni and fans in the city gathered to watch both football and basketball games as a community. They weren’t kidding at graduation when they said that you can find a Badger anywhere you go.
- Earlier this month I got the opportunity to join the Philadelphia Eagles community by watching the Super Bowl with hundreds of fans, storming Broad Street with thousands, and parade watching with hundreds of thousands Eagle faithful. It is incredible how one sports team can bring together so many people into one community. (As fun as it was to be part of the Eagle community for a week, this Wisconsin girl will always stay loyal to her fellow cheeseheads.)
- We got the chance this month to connect with a couple of other service year groups in Philadelphia and Camden for dinner with one group and a chance to just hang out with another group. Once of the biggest surprises to me when I first moved out here was to find out the large number of groups that are in this area. These groups have been a blessing to connect with because they are going through some of the same things that we are also going through.
- During the last week of February at work we had the chance to celebrate four staff birthdays. In our small staff community of just six people it was a blessing to have the chance to celebrate over lunch together and count the numerous blessings over the past year.
- In the small neighborhood that is North Camden, we had a tragic accident that sadly took the life of an eight year old girl. As the community mourned it was incredible to see the amount of support that the family received. There was hardly a time for the following week’s time that I didn’t see multiple people outside supporting the family. It was incredible to see the amount of flowers, candles, stuffed animals, balloons and more that was gifted from the community.
- Everyday at work, I do my best to foster a welcoming community at CASA Camden. At CASA Camden we are a Positive Youth Development that aims at guiding Camden teens to live their best lives and to be the best versions of themselves. We provide tutoring and homework help everyday after school as well as help with the college application process and allowing the teens a space that allows them to hang out in a safe environment. With the teens that come on the regular basis a small community has formed that allows the teens to be lifted up from their peers.
These are just a few of the communities that I was able to reflect on this past month without getting to long winded and boring you all too much. Moving halfway across the country and only knowing one person within a 100 mile radius of you has made me very thankful for community even in the occasional moment I just want to be left alone. The communities that I have surrounded myself with these past few years of my life have helped shape me to become the best version of myself.