Message from Alumna Emily

October 2, 2013

Greetings Newmanites!

 

How art thou? I am now living in Houston, Texas, serving for a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), living out JVC’s four core values of spirituality, community, simple living, and social justice. During this year, I am residing in an impoverished neighborhood with five other Jesuit volunteers. My five housemates are amazing people doing equally amazing things throughout the city, including working in refugee services, a food pantry, advocacy against human trafficking, and at a legal firm that tries to get people on death row a life sentence instead.

 

My own full-time volunteer position here in Houston is at the Open Door Mission as the social services coordinator, where I work with a team of social workers to provide services to homeless men in our addiction recovery program and convalescent care center. Basically, I do intake and conduct psychosocial and social services needs assessments. I help the guys get ID cards, social security cards, birth certificates, refer them to medical, psychological, and dental appointments, and help them get health insurance. On Fridays, I teach a gardening class for men in the convalescent care center. I helped finish making raised garden beds that are wheelchair accessible. This past week, we just planted a variety of plants- strawberries, pineapple, marigolds, cabbage, tomatoes, and others. The guys had so much fun!

 

Although the transition from Quebec to Texas is a huge culture shock and I miss Montreal, Texas is really growing on me. My neighborhood is full of great Salvadorian and Mexican restaurants, where I have discovered the beauty of pupusas and horchata. I have seen an armadillo in the wild, as well as tarantulas. The music scene here is really interesting; I’ve seen country and rock shows so far. And in two weeks, I am getting ready to run in my first 5k ever!

 

If y’all could please pray for the men at the Open Door Mission, and for my community here, I would really appreciate it! And please email me at emily.erkkinen@mail.mcgill.ca, especially if you’re interested in doing JVC!

 

Paz,

Emily

Emily (4th from the left) with her house-mates and fellow Jesuit Volunteers
Emily (4th from the left) with her house-mates and fellow Jesuit Volunteers