count on community

11 12 2012

Recruiter, Ian Roeber, shares an adventure from his semester of traveling around the country while recruiting for JVC Northwest:

[Note: I do not in any way want to equate my experience to those truly affected by Hurricane Sandy. This reflection stems only from what I saw and experienced away from the epicenter of the storm.]

The true grace of being the recruiter for JVC Northwest lies in the relationships I am able to nurture and create throughout my travels.  Students, faculty, staff, and hosts welcome me into their world, and I do my best to welcome them into mine.  However, in order to meet these individuals and mutually share our experiences, I have to first plan everything, I mean everything.

Visiting nearly thirty schools in the span of a few months has required more emails than my hands have ever previously typed.  I use not one, but two cell phones to coordinate car rentals, flights, class presentations, tables, fairs, etc.  You name it, and I plan it.  This did not come naturally to me and I have learned a great deal about the amount of work it takes to spread the good news of JVC Northwest.  However, over a month ago, I learned one very distinct truth about plans:  They change.

This became undeniably evident as Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast, and my travels to Connecticut and New York became plans of the past.  Boston, where I had been recruiting prior to the storm, was where I stayed for the next week, and I found myself wondering how I could maintain some sense of normality in a place very far from the JVC Northwest office on North Williams Avenue in Portland, Oregon.  After becoming acclimated to moving across the country in rapid fashion during the past months, I suddenly was stopped.  No travel, no plans.  What in the world was I going to do?

With former JVs now in Boston, Ian participates in a "work party" while waiting out the storm.

With former JVs now in Boston, Ian participates in a “work party” while waiting out the storm.

That question was quickly answered when I woke Sunday morning expecting to hear the howling wind and driving rain, but instead, I heard laughter in the living room.  I had been staying with a former JV housemate from my community in Juneau, Alaska during my time in Boston, who also happened to live with two other former JVs.  Another Juneau housemate lived nearby, being visited by yet another of our Juneau community members who had flown in for the weekend.  With only a few missing community members from our Juneau house, I woke to see them all sitting in the living room watching “The Goonies.”  From that moment on I didn’t need to question what I was going to do.  We did work. We made phone calls to loved ones. We watched movies.  We even went grocery shopping like we did together in Juneau.  But most importantly, we were “we” for those few days. Much like our days as Jesuit Volunteers, we were a community.

That week, it was obvious that “community” is not simply a value that we ponder as Jesuit Volunteers.  Rather, it is a necessary part of our human experience.  Those few days of laughter, support, and care transformed our experience of, what could have been, a very uncertain week.  And we weren’t the only ones that found the support of a community that week.  We watched plenty of stories that detailed people saving others from floods, repairing homes, cooking for one another; more glimpses of some innate nature we have to come together in uncertain times.  This was a week during which I learned one more important aspect about the work we do at JVC Northwest: Plans change, but our need for community doesn’t.

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