Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting Started at NFNF

Work finally started this Monday, and every day has been different. My assignment is to Nurses for Newborns (NFNF), a non-profit that sponsors free in-home nurse visits for preemies, teen moms, disabled moms, and poor families. It's easy for me to get fired up about something so clearly pro-life and common sense as reducing infant mortality rates. Actually helping with that 9-5 has been tougher. I could go on forever with stories, but instead I'll make a list of the high points.
In the office I have:
  • followed my boss, the Nicest Man in the World (tm), around like a lost puppy as he dashed across the office
  • attended a mind-numbing meeting led by a man I named public health Wesley Snipes
  • been assigned my own cubicle and a Mac G4 laptop, Lucy 9she's linked to my boss' desktop, Samantha)
  • shaken hands with and then memorized the jobs of the entire office staff (not unlike APO brother interviews)
  • discussed the Titanic with the IT guy's 8 year old son
  • read grant proposals and public health stats for nearly 8 hours straight
  • been thankful that my gluten intolerance has prevented me from pigging out on the cake, donuts, and ravioli thrust at me in the first four hours
  • become familiar with the three metro stops near my house
  • heard a man's life story while he waited for the bus - he just got out of jail for fighting with his woman
I spent Tuesday out of the office, riding around north city with a nurse while she did home visits. We saw three teenage mothers and their kids, ranging from a one year old to a newborn to about to deliver. These girls were lucky to live with their mothers and younger siblings, so at least they have some people to help them out. The files I read today about abusive situations and post-partum depression nearly made me cry. Other nurses have told me stories about infants with terminal diagnoses and the grieving process they go through over their clients.

Getting to see moms and babies was cool, but otherwise it has been hard to see the face of Christ while staring at my cubicle walls. Most of my other housemates come home with stories about organizing food pantries, helping poor kids write their resumes, or leading activities for disabled people. I looked up statistics on the internet. Maybe its good to utilize my research skills for funding worthwhile efforts, but I kindof feel like I am copping out. Vincent De Paul and Louise de Marillac's words about loving the poor seem pointless to me when I am parked at a desk.

I have to keep telling myself that the two past VSC volunteers at NFNF have enjoyed their time there. My boss, the Nicest Man in the World (tm), is heavily involved with the St Vincent de Paul Society, so he understands the special "charism" of direct service. But in the meantime, I can't help wondering what on earth I have signed up for.

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