It was the summer of 20-16
Ok, this might come as a surprise to those of you that I haven’t gotten to talk with in the last year or three: I love Oregon. Not like pizza love that we learned about in Sex Ed in high school (he might say he ‘loves’ you, but he says that about pizza and he only loves pizza when he’s in the mood for it anyways). Is it possible to agape love a place? I think I Agape Oregon. I’ve only been home a little while and have been somewhat resistant to leaving my parent’s home which is just so peaceful and brings me a deep sense of contentment. I love being here- just BEING! It is good to feel like I am back to being me again. I apologize to the friends and family I will not have time to connect with on this visit, but know I am holding you in my heart and have not forgotten you.
The last few posts are updates I sent home over the last year I was in Texas. It felt like it added a bit of consistency to me just jumping back onto this blog thing. Seems like the blog might be an easier way to keep in touch through the summer in case I do not take my computer with me. Which is what I hope to do…
Where will I not be taking it with me? To Pennsylvania. Chester, PA. I’m spending June and July as an intern with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. SHECP provides a flight to the East coast, place for sleeping, and $14/day for everything else. We have training, work for two months and then bring the results of our individual programs together at the end. There are internships for students of social work, education, legal, healthcare, community services, and more. There will be three of us working together in Chester, I can’t wait to meet them!
Chester is a city of 35,000 people that used to be a big industrial/manufacturing/port city until the cars started being manufactured in other places and people started investing in drugs and crime. It’s about 20 minutes south-ish from Philadelphia and real close to all that Lancaster County history. I will be working in the Boys and Girls Club of Chester which has been around for almost a century since some guy realized there were a whole lot of boys running around on the streets after curfew and he wanted to give the hoodlums somewhere safe to have fun and chase their dreams and have positive role models and all that.
Which is why they recruited me, of course :)
Bags are packed and I’m headed to the east side of the nation. The B&GC has a Summer Program and, as an intern, I’ll be asked to help with the kiddos that have signed up. They have all sorts of activities- everything you’d expect, especially a gardening program (Kids in the dirt- YAY!!). They also have a program called Face Forward 2 that helps “court-involved” 14-24 year olds gain employment skills so they can actually get a job, even if they have a record following them. That’s what I’m wanting to really invest my time in while I’m there. This past semester in Waco, I tried going to volunteer at the Juvenile Correction Center each week. Y’all, I love them so much. Between the homeless kids and the kids in there, it’s hard to decide who I enjoy working with more… Either way, it is going to be a summer of new experiences.
Chester demographics tell a tale of median household incomes about half the national rate, per capita income is half that of the state of Oregon, and 75% Black. One third of the population is living below the poverty line and half of the population that is under the age of 18 is living in poverty. Which is a whole bunch of people when you consider the median age is only about 30 years old. Basically there are a lot of people living really hard lives and I am looking forward to learning from them.
- June 2nd I fly to DC and spend a week at Marymount University in Arlington for orientation and training.
- June 7 to July 28 at the B&GC of Chester.
- July 29-31 closing Consortium and Symposium in Atlanta, GA.
This year the Symposium program is “Childhood Literacy as a Public Health and Economic Imperative” focusing on kids from conception through third grade. I’m super excited! You may know how much of a nerd I am about all that neurobiology business- fascinating!
August 1st brings me back to Oregon. The land I love! Back to paradise for several weeks before returning to Waco, TX. To think- this time next year I will have my MSW completed and be returning to Oregon to look for a job! Please send your prayers, warm wishes, good thoughts, blessings, and sunshine my way!
Until I leave, I will be spending ridiculous amounts of time out in my mom’s garden, picking strawberries hand over fist, hanging out with the nephews I have that have doubled in size and will have a little brother the next time I come home, putting out the wedding taffeta (can’t deny a girl the fun of putting it up even when Carl is not here yet) mowing on the tractor, trying to cross paths with at least a few people I have not seen in what feels like a decade, and just being present. Re-rooting myself in the rich home soil that will provide sustenance throughout this next season. Spending luxurious hours weeding wild patches of flowers. Heaven is truly there in the garden!
Tonight my family is taking me to the airport and I fly into D.C. with the flu, hopefully not still contagious. This is not a viral attack of the capital, I promise. It’s been a bugger these last few days and I’m so sorry for all of you that I did not get to spend time with. There’s never enough time to fit everything in and then I have to get sick while trying HA! I love you all and am not taking computer, laptop, fancy cell phone, Apple device, or personal communication device other than my cell phone. My apartment will be next door to Widener University, so I hope to find public email that will allow me to keep in touch with y’all. No guarantees… Other than $14/day!