Hearing about the work other people do is always a great shot in the arm. Here's a sample:
- The Hispanic parish in Charlotte, NC that offers a monthly free medical clinic
- Sr. Elizabeth, who shares her sweet smile with incarcerated teens on an Arizona Reservation. She visits them, encourages them to hang onto Native traditions, and fights for the detention centers to offer more job training and rehabilitation
- The Samaritan Center, a former Detroit hospital that is now a collaborative social service center. The huge facility houses an urgent care center, job search facility, assisted living home, dialysis center, small businesses, and a future mental health facility. Keeping the place clean and bright is a central component of respect for their clients. The staff is also great - we met a nurse decked out in gold jewelry who is possibly the most loving dialysis nurse on the planet. She cheerily greeted every elderly patient like they were her relatives.
- On the Rise Bakery, a joint effort of Capuchin monks and the released prisoners and recovering addicts they mentor. Fr. Ray nearly broke down and wept as he told us about the men who started the business and their determination to build better lives for themselves.
Meeting other non-profits is also good for getting ideas and forming potential partnerships. We did a lot of VSC publicity this weekend, since our program is pretty obscure even in the Vincentian world. (If the Jesuit Volunteer Corps is Diet Coke, VSC is RC Cola.) Once we had explained the year-long service in community concept, people loved it. They all seemed to be thinking "Where I can get one of these?" Could there be a VSC-Detroit one day?
The whole VFG gave me a lot to consider, not just about social justice but also the future of the Church and my own calling. This is probably going to be a multi-poster - tune in tomorrow!