Friends, greetings from New England! After moving into the YAV house this weekend with Sarah Jeanne and Mary Frances, my year as a Boston Food Justice Young Adult Volunteer finally feels official. I have spent the last two weeks becoming oriented to the program, or perhaps as Rick Ufford-Chase would prefer, disoriented. Rick is the co-director of Stony Point Center, where the ’17-18 YAV class gathered to prepare for the upcoming year. The great thing about disorientation is the opportunity to challenge routines and rebuild them from the ground up.
Accepting a volunteer placement this year is certainly a break in routine for me. For the first time in about 20 years, I am no longer a student. As a Boston Food Justice YAV, I will consider seriously what I eat and where it comes from, something I’ve never done when I’ve gone to the pantry for a snack. And as I reflect on systemic injustices, I recognize my inability to fix the world, as well as my responsibility to examine my own habits.
This year of developing new routines for thinking, doing, being, and living could get messy. Only by trusting in God will I be able to reorient myself into unity with my neighbors. Discerning God’s will for orientation will be facilitated by intentional community, as my housemates and I share food, seek spiritual growth, and participate in a neighborhood. We are nervous, excited, and now that we’ve finally made it to Watertown, we are ready!
I’d love to share a brief update of what I’ve done since leaving Richmond, VA two weeks ago:
In Stony Point, NY, I attended a program-wide orientation at a beautiful multifaith retreat center. Much of our time here was spent in small groups that allowed us to exchange thoughts and expectations with YAVs who will be serving in different parts of the country and world. For the first couple of days, we participated in CrossRoads’ critical cultural competency training. With my small group, I spent an afternoon in New York City’s East Village neighborhood, and we reflected on what we observed in an unfamiliar community. At the end of the week, I was welcomed to worship and commissioned by The Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair in New Jersey.
The next morning I travelled by train to Boston. While staying at the home of one of BFJYAV’s board members, Sarah Jeanne, Mary Frances, and I had local orientation. We visited different parts of Greater Boston, started planning our approach to the SNAP/local food challenge, and met with supervisors from each of our worksite placements. With the help of many hands on the BFJYAV team, we moved into our house in Watertown, MA this weekend. Now that I’m settled in, I’m excited to start my work at a nonprofit called Food for Free this week.
I hope you’ll join me this year by following my blog and keeping the Boston YAVs in your prayers. I look forward to sharing more about Food for Free, applying for SNAP, eating locally, and my host community in the near future!