Hi, my name is Katy Morton and I am absolutely delighted to be one of the chosen Shari Prestemon Social Justice interns for this year! I have been a professional social worker for several years, but have always been interested in social justice and service.

Throughout my time as a social worker, I have had the opportunity to work with, learn from, and advocate for, people from all walks of life. In 2014, I graduated with my BSW from Temple University, and went on to get my MSW from West Chester University in 2015. Since graduation, I have worked in politics, policy research and advocacy, nonprofit, case management, service coordination, and many other things in between.

I have worked in gold-leaf-plated rooms of the capitol building, struggling nonprofits who can barely afford office supplies, and tiny offices where there is hardly enough space to meet with clients. I have worked with people in prisons, savagely impoverished neighborhoods, homes infested with bedbugs, and sterile hospital rooms. I have learned patience, respect, and the importance of listening. Every person, no matter how small or insignificant society may view them as, has a story to tell and a lesson to teach.

I have been lucky enough to grow up from infancy in an incredibly supportive UCC church that has helped to instill within me the values of social justice and service. Since I can remember, I have always been surrounded by an amazing support system that has encouraged me and helped me nurture my dream to serve others. As a teenager, I watched in horror as the south was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to do something, but felt helpless. One Sunday, my pastors began to talk about the possibility of getting together a group to go to Mississippi to help rebuild homes, with an organization called Back Bay Mission. My pastor spoke about how this organization had lost nearly everything in the storm and flood waters, yet volunteers and employees had been working tirelessly around the clock to provide comfort and help to begin to rebuild.

I was fortunate enough to be included on this amazing trip, and had an experience that I would never forget. From the beginning, Shari’s hospitality and warmth were a stark contrast to the destruction and desolation left from Katrina. I learned a great deal on my trip, but the one thing I will never forget was the sense of community and pulling together for a common good that I experienced at Back Bay Mission. This sense of community is clearly still alive and well at Back Bay and I cannot wait to be a part of it this.

My name is Naiomi Gonzalez. I am 27 years old and I am originally from Bethlehem, PA. I recently graduated with an MDiv from Brite Divinity School in May 2016. I am currently working on an MA in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at George Mason University. My current academic interests center on examining the interconnection between government and institutional injustice and terrorism and other forms of non-state violence. I plan on applying to PhD programs in the fall.

I applied to Back Bay Mission because I am interested in the nonprofit sector and this internship provides me with an opportunity to learn about the different facets that go into running a successful nonprofit organization. Moreover, I am interested in finding ways to integrate with faith with my social justice values.

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