I’ve officially been a southerner living in Chicago for about two months. Last year’s winter coat is now serving as my fall coat here, and they weren’t lying about the wind.
Since moving to Chicago in late August, my days have been packed. Prior to my move, I had a week of orientation with all of the PCUSA Young Adult Volunteers in Stony Point, NY that was filled with sessions and trainings and fellowship that would prepare me for this year of service. Once I landed in Chicago, we started a week of city orientation that was focused on getting to know each other and the city.
I start most mornings around 6:45 (apologies to my roommate Hannah who knows that my alarm starts going off then but truly I’m not up until 7). I am out the door by 8:15 to catch two buses to be at my site placement by 9.
From 9 to 5, I work as the communications and outreach coordinator at New Moms, which is a nonprofit in a nearby neighborhood. New Moms has three main services that we provide to moms 24 and younger in Chicago. We provide stable homes, a paid job training program, and family support services. In my role at New Moms, I do some appeal writing, newsletters, social media, in-kind donation management, church outreach, narrative collection, and some graphics. All of these are tasks that I am really enjoying because I love New Moms and their mission to provide support to young moms.
I live with five other people who are also doing a year of service. We live in intentional Christian community which means a lot of things like we eat together as a community every Tuesday, have community days every Friday, volunteer together, and do reflective activities and retreats together. Right now, we are reading The Road Back to You about the enneagram which is helpful for us to navigate conflict while living in intentional community. We’ve explored together quite a bit from the Indiana Dunes State Park to the Garfield Park Conservatory down the street.
Living in Chicago as a recent graduate is awesome. There’s always something to do! Living in Chicago as a recent undergraduate doing a year of service is still awesome but also means something different. I’ve pledged this year of my life to do service, live simply, and live in intentional community. As you can imagine, meeting other young adults while I have a stipend of $100 a month is challenging. A GOOD challenging. Hear me out though, I CHOSE this. Not everyone has the privilege to live simply by choice. But through that, I’ve learned all of the cool free things this city has to offer and ways to create community that doesn’t stand on the foundation of spending. I’ve found a really wonderful church that I enjoy attending, a young adult group that I look forward to every week, and have gotten through podcast episodes and book chapters faster than ever before.
I knew this year would challenge me in a lot of ways, but I didn’t think I would see growth as a product of being challenged so quickly. Living in community in a city I had never been to was a leap of faith quite honestly, and it challenges me every day to rethink how I navigate this world and the people I encounter in it.
Part of my commitment this year is to raise funds to offset the cost of a year of service – so rent, utilities, public transit pass, community building, etc. I have not met my goal yet and am appreciative of all support! For my fundraising efforts, you can give directly to DOOR, a PCUSA partner in Chicago, that is my host this year. If you have questions about financial support or DOOR, check out the support page or email me!