New Normal

Nothing especially insightful for this blog post, but it’s been about two months and I really am trying to keep up with this! Slightly adapted from articles I wrote for the newsletter for West Plano Presbyterian Church!

Somehow, four months have passed since I packed my bags and moved to the Windy City. In that time, I’ve worked on creating a community for myself both within my house and beyond and have settled into my job at New Moms. As you may recall, I live with five other young adults between the ages of 19 and 26, taking over both apartments of a small house in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. As part of our YAV programming, we’re required to have at least one dinner every week where all six of us sit down together and engage in intentional conversation. Because our kitchen has a maximum occupancy of about three, however, we have family style meals every night, as it’s much more practical to just rotate who cooks a big meal every night, rather than all six of us individually making our own dinner and waiting our turn in the kitchen. While sometimes all I want to do when I get home from work is check out and go to my room, it’s nice to make intentional space every night to talk to people going through a lot of the same things I am.

Beyond dinner, we spend a lot of our free time together. Part of that, of course, is that most all of us were completely new to the city and didn’t know anyone else, but there’s a lot to be said for shared experiences. We’ve connected with other service corps groups in the city and have spent time with them, but each group does things a little differently. Aside from convenience, these are people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. We have some very different and strong personalities in the house, but it all balances out. We have a shared passion for service and have a similar sense of social justice. We certainly don’t agree on everything, but in the end, we’re all in Chicago for the same reason.

At New Moms, I’m the volunteer coordinator, and also spend some time each week working at the front desk. This arrangement is pretty perfect for my extroverted self: there’s always someone I need to be talking to, whether it’s calling potential volunteers, talking to people as they pass through the lobby, or just chatting with my fellow staff members. After four months on the job, I definitely have the hang of things around here and am working to make our volunteer program even better! I’ve led one volunteer orientation completely by myself and have another one coming up soon. Last month, I recruited close to 50 volunteers to set-up, run, and take back down our annual Christmas event for our participants (over 60 families came, one of our highest attended events yet!) and oversaw details of that from as far back as September. I have my own desk and even my own business cards, I’ve learned my way around the place, and I have my bus route there and back memorized. New Moms does amazing work and I’m so glad I get to be a part of it!

And a final life update – several weeks ago I submitted three applications to graduate schools around the country to pursue a Masters in Social Work (or equivalent) once my year in Chicago is over. My time here learning more about Chicago and working at New Moms has reaffirmed my decision to pursue this degree as soon as I can. I’d appreciate your prayers or good thoughts!

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2 thoughts on “New Normal

  1. Teresa Larson says:

    Thanks for sharing, Emily! Prayers for you and your community going into the new year. Looking forward to following your YAV adventures in 2017!
    Peace,
    Teresa
    2014-15 Chicago YAV

    Like

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