Rachel - A Year as a Volunteer

A Question and Answer Reflection from Rachel, a One-Year Volunteer

What belief did you have before coming to CAP that has been challenged? 
I don’t know if I’ve had any major beliefs challenged, but I have certainly been humbled as I’ve come face to face with poverty in this corner of the US. My first big project when I came to CAP was a bathroom addition for a family who had never had a bathroom. That made me realize just how much I take for granted, and was eye-opening to me as far as how much can still be done to promote human flourishing/ alleviate suffering right here in the US; one does not have to go to a third world country to find families that could use help sourcing safe, clean water or those who feel unsafe in their home due to accessibility issues. When we are called to love our neighbor, we shouldn’t put boundaries on who we consider our neighbor, but at the same time we can probably find a neighbor in need in closer physical proximity to where we are than we might be looking. CAP has encouraged me to keep this in mind for the rest of my life.

What is your favorite encounter with a participant? What made it special?
I have been so fortunate to serve grateful and kind participants. I think favorite interactions have been those where work was at a stopping point and I could just be with the people I was trying to serve, so my service had a bit more context. For example, I once arrived early to a job out of county once and got to sit with a participant and we got to chat as she had her morning coffee while we watched her kittens play. I also had the chance to sit and have coffee with a disaster relief participant we were helping out after his home was flooded. Knowing their stories without the “distraction” (if I can call the actual work distraction) makes the work we do more meaningful.

What is it like to live with roommates from all sorts of different backgrounds?
I have been fortunate to live in two fantastic communities during my time at CAP. I have been fortunate to live with people both younger and older than me, from different faith traditions and backgrounds, with different hobbies, different life experiences and it has really enriched my time here. One of the things I was most worried about when considering what to do during this odd stage of life when I graduated into a pandemic was finding people with common interests and values, as all of the “real” jobs I was considering were being done virtually (meaning I would either be in my parents’ home or a strange city not meeting coworkers or new neighbors), most churches had only online services, and many other community-building things were similarly shut down. CAP solved that concern for me, giving me a group of people who were genuinely concerned about me and what I was doing from the get go. We may be different, but we were united in our goals, which helped give a foundation for good relationships as a whole house unit and one on one.

What has been your favorite non-work event since you've been there? 
My favorite non-work event was probably my trip to the Red River Gorge with a housemate on the weekend of my birthday. I got to see and walk on top of some fantastic natural arches (which I am obsessed with), got to spend wonderful quality time with a great friend who made me feel so special, and ate great pizza at the end of the day. It was so special!

What will you miss most when you've gone?
Coming home to “my people”. I have become very attached to my CAP family— right now that’s my McCreary House community especially. Just having someone home who cares about my day and is invested in my work as more than just a roommate has been huge, and so has the time we get to spend with one another. I know that one of my least favorite things is eating dinner by myself, so going from guaranteed family dinners to having to work to schedule meals with other people (I will be living by myself) is going to be tough. I already warned my house that I will be FaceTiming during my evening meal as much as they will let me get away with!

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