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No Lone Wolves: The Importance and Necessity of Community. A Journal Entry from Social Justice Intern Naiomi Gonzalez.

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The 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Interns have graciously agreed to share their experiences with all of us. From time to time, we’ll be posting ‘journal entries’ from Naiomi Gonzalez and Katy Morton. Below is one of these entries.

No Lone Wolves. The Importance and Necessity of Community.

In my academic studies, one term that I particularly dislike but hear over and over again is the term, “Lone wolf terrorism.” Lone wolf terrorism refers to individuals who commit acts of political violence without having any obvious ties or relationship to established terrorist groups. The problem with this phrase is that its disproportionate focus on the individual ignores the larger ramifications of political violence and the ways in which society at large often fosters an environment where individuals feel as if terrorism is an appropriate way to respond to their frustrations with society.

In a similar vein, when it comes to issues of poverty and homelessness, terms and phrases such as “personal responsibility” and “picking oneself up by one’s bootstraps” are often thrown about. Poverty and homelessness are portrayed as individual problems with individual solutions. “If only that person could quite gambling.” Or “If only that person made better choices then they wouldn’t be poor.” Of course, in many cases personal responsibility does play a role in causing and alleviating poverty and homelessness. Even though I grew up in poverty – living in public housings, with my family relying on Social Security and Medicaid to make ends meet – I still find myself wondering how other people in similar situations can make what I believe to be bad decisions. I absolutely believe in empowering individuals to make it out of poverty and in fostering better decision making; but poverty and homelessness are not simply a matter of poor individual decision making or individual free will. The systematic nature of poverty and homelessness matters because dealing with these issues requires a concentrated effort by numerous people and organizations. Working at Back Bay Mission has opened my eyes to how poverty and homelessness are issues that affect not only individuals but whole communities and dealing with those issues adequately requires a community response.

This past week was filled with meeting after meeting after meeting. The meetings more often than not involved a wide aware of businesses, other nonprofits, and community members. We attended meetings that dealt specifically with a narrow definition of homelessness-those who were living outside. Other meetings took a more expansive definition of homelessness that includes unstable housing situations. Other meetings focused on how the participants could more effectively work together and organize themselves in order to better serve their community. Still other meetings focused on promoting health and wellness to those with very little access to information on healthy living and eating. And others focused specifically on Back Bay Mission and how to ensure that it has the resources-financial and otherwise to continue providing its much needs services. In some of the meetings one individual presented information, while the others listened. In other meetings, multiple people spoke and shared with the larger group what they (and/or their organization) have been working on and they questioned, and offered critiques and suggestions to one another. The meetings, which often dealt with different aspects of poverty and/or homelessness, and provided different insights into the work of nonprofits all reinforced one thing: the fact homelessness and poverty are not just individual issues and as a result they cannot be dealt with by one individual or even by one organization.

It appears as if many organizations and individuals are under the impression that Back Bay Mission is an all-purpose nonprofit-meaning that it basically provides help and services for the myriad of physical, mental, and material issues that come with struggling with poverty and homelessness. However, while Back Bay Mission offers a lot of different programs and does a lot of good work, it does not do so alone. It works with other organizations not just because it wants to but because in order to provide effective solutions it needs to seek out and collaborate with other organizations. Just like no individual can be good at everything, no one organization can provide all types of services for all people. As mentioned earlier, homelessness and poverty do have individual components-sometimes people make things harder for themselves, but there are larger systematic issues that make it easy for people to slip into poverty and homelessness and difficult to get out. It is the complexity of the issues and its systematic components that make it necessary to work with others in order to lessen or idealistically, eventually element the problems caused by poverty and homelessness.

The importance of community was stressed, albeit it in a different way, in New Orleans. Katy and I unintentionally visited during Pride. Pride is a nationwide event in which members of the LGBTQA+ community and their allies get together and participate in numerous events. The purpose of Pride differs depending on location- with some cities focusing on unity and celebration, while others took on a more protest like atmosphere, but in essence Pride is about community. In a world where people are still viewed as less then human because of their skin color, sexual/gender orientation, and religious beliefs (or lack thereof) places like Pride provide an assurance that no matter how bad things may get-there are always others one can turn to for support.

Communities provide support but also a measure of accountability. When it comes to dealing with social justice issues-whether terrorism, poverty/homelessness, or discrimination based on gender/sexual orientation, the only way to move forward and challenge injustice is through community involvement and support.

Community. A Journal Entry by Katy Morton.

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The 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Interns have graciously agreed to share their experiences with all of us. From time to time, we’ll be posting ‘journal entries’ from Naiomi Gonzalez and Katy Morton. Below is one of these entries.

Community

This week, the welcoming spirit of Back Bay Mission has continued to be apparent in all things.

This past Monday, June 12th, was my 25th birthday. After celebrating this weekend in New Orleans at the PRIDE parade with Naiomi, we headed back to Back Bay for our second week of work. I wasn’t sure if anyone would even remember my birthday, but just about everyone wished me a happy birthday, and we were even invited out to lunch and dinner by members of staff. Once again, the sense of welcoming and community that drew me back to Back Bay in the first place, was alive and well.

Throughout this week, we have had the opportunity to shadow Kenney, as well as some of the other staff members, to a wide variety of community meetings. We have been welcomed in and invited to represent Back Bay with the staff at all different kinds of meetings, and boy have we learned a lot! We have been exposed to groups and organizations who work to end homelessness, hunger, health issues, and other concerns related to poverty in the lower six area.

Although we have mainly been active listeners at these meetings, rather than active participants, it has truly been an amazing learning experience. I feel as though I am beginning to gain a better understanding of the issues Biloxi and the surrounding areas are facing, and how the community is working together to combat poverty. It continues to be truly amazing to me just how invested these organizations and people are in working to end poverty and improve Biloxi. It has also been very interesting to me to see all the different ways social workers are involved with these efforts, whether through their agency of employment or just from personal interest.

I spent the year before this internship working at a very busy skilled nursing and rehab facility in southern Florida. Although I enjoyed working with the aging and memory-impaired population, I realized that working for a huge corporate entity as a social worker was probably not where I needed, or wanted to be, at this stage of my professional or personal life. The facility where I worked was beautiful and provided excellent care to the patients and residents, but I still felt as though I was not helping everyone that needed me. I even felt as though I may have begun to experience some of the symptoms of burnout, as I was constantly stressed and feeling like I could not help everyone that needed a social worker. I worried that I was beginning to question why I chose social work as my profession, and started to lose sight of the reasons why I wanted to help people.

I can happily say that Back Bay, and the staff here, have already started to remind me why I love social work and serving others. Back when I was only 15 years old, and had come down with my family and church group to rebuild after Katrina, Back Bay helped me to realize that I truly loved serving others and working towards ending poverty and related issues. Back Bay was one of the first places I was when I realized I wanted to be a social worker, and I feel so fortunate that it is here once again to remind me why I chose this profession and career path.

I also discovered the importance of having a support system when working in the social services/human services field, and feel as though Back Bay truly works to be a built-in support system for all of its’ staff and volunteers. That support system also seems to expand out into the community, as groups of people and organizations come together throughout the month to meet, discuss, and create plans to work to improve the issues facing the underserved population in Biloxi.

I am so excited to continue on this personal and professional experience of growth, and cannot wait to see what next week has in store for us!

Two Welcomes. A Journal Entry from Social Justice Intern Katy Morton.

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The 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Interns have graciously agreed to share their experiences with all of us. From time to time, we’ll be posting ‘journal entries’ from Naiomi Gonzalez and Katy Morton. Below is one of these entries.

I will preface this by saying I promise not to tell long, drawn-out stories every week, but that I have received two very different welcomes to Biloxi since my arrival in Mississippi.

After traveling over nine hours from the small town in Southern Florida that I had called my home for the last year, I was relieved—to say the least—to have finally arrived at the house at Back Bay Mission. My mom had graciously offered to come to Florida to make the journey with me from Mississippi, and I’m sure she was just as relieved as I was to have finally arrived. We began to unload my belongings from the car into the house.

After a few trips, we decided that we needed to take a water break, partially due to the heat and humidity—something I figured I would be more used to after living in Florida for the past year! Within a few minutes, we realized my entire purse was missing. Remembering I had left it in the car, I raced back outside and down the steps, only to discover it was not there.

My mom and I tried not to panic, and did a complete search of the house, but still came up with no purse! We quickly made the decision to call the local police, and within minutes, an officer was at our door. Understandably, my mom and I were both very upset, as we realized my wallet, phone, glasses, medicine case, and a set of car keys were all missing. We scrambled to cancel my credit and debit cards, find a phone store that was open on the holiday, and make sure I had enough of all my medicines, all while using my mom’s cell phone and attempting to file a police report with the officer.

At the time, I was completely devastated. I had been unbelievably excited and looking forward to living and working at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi since I heard I had been chosen for the program. I could not believe this was my welcome to Biloxi. I couldn’t help but think why me!? Someone had stolen my entire purse with all of my most important things. But that was just it, they had only stolen things. Always the voice of reason and wisdom when I am at my most upset, my mom reminded me that it was only things they had stolen, and that things can be replaced. She and I were both safe, and nobody had hurt either one of us. Still upset and angry, I continued to question why this had happened and why this was my welcome to Biloxi. My mom reminded me, once again, that things happen all the time that we can’t explain, but that God has a plan no matter what.  To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive to return to Biloxi after what had happened, but continued to feel called to learn and serve at Back Bay this summer.

On Sunday, I boarded my plane from PA and headed back to Biloxi to begin my summer.

Fast forward a week to my first day on the job at Back Bay Mission. My fellow intern Naiomi and I met with Dr. Alice Graham who provided a completely opposite welcome to the one I had received the week before. As she toured us around the buildings and introduced us to staff, I couldn’t help but remember the feelings of warmth, community, and welcome that I had remembered about Back Bay so many years ago. Everyone was kind, loving, and even listened intently to my above-mentioned, long, drawn-out story.

As we walked through the buildings and witnessed the staff at work, it continued to show just how much everyone truly loved what they were doing and the people they were serving. Another thing that became apparent almost immediately at Back Bay, was the sense of community amongst the staff. I have never seen a group of people who love working together as much as the staff of Back Bay. I continue to be amazed at the number of people Back Bay manages to serve on a daily basis, all the while smiling and enjoying being and working with one another.

I was nervous that Naiomi and I might be viewed as the newcomers, and may not fit into the tight-knit group of staff at Back Bay. Oh, but how wrong I was. Once again, the sense of community and kindness was alive, and we were welcomed right in as if we had been working here for years. In the first week, Naiomi and I have had the opportunity to help answer the phones, man the front desk, re-think and re-draft organizational policy, attend meetings with other area agencies, create a client survey for the food pantry, and most importantly of all, meet a number of the individuals that Back Bay Mission serves on a daily basis.

In my down time, I have found myself thinking back to what happened when I first arrived in Biloxi, and realizing just how truly fortunate I am. Although it is frustrating that I lost my pair of prescription glasses, and scary that someone is still out there with a key to my car, I have been able to replace the glasses with a different pair and put a steering wheel lock and tire boot on my car.

When I take a minute to stop and think about how bad it could have been, I am so thankful that all that was taken from me were things. The staff at Back Bay has welcomed me with open arms, provided suggestions and reassurance, and I can say with certainty that they have made me feel much more secure and excited about my decision to work in Biloxi and at Back Bay this summer. This week has flown by, and I have enjoyed every minute of being able to learn new skills and ideas. As I look towards next week, I cannot wait to see what is in store for Naiomi and me. We have several meetings scheduled with different community organizations, as well as time allotted to work with other employees, staff, and volunteers on various programs and projects. I am so excited to have been chosen for this opportunity and cannot wait to continue to share my experiences with all of you! 

Why Back Bay Mission? A Journal Entry from Social Justice Intern Naiomi Gonzalez.

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The 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Interns have graciously agreed to share their experiences with all of us. From time to time, we’ll be posting ‘journal entries’ from Naiomi Gonzalez and Katy Morton. Below is one of these entries.

Why Back Bay Mission?

I am a perpetual student. (Fellow intern Katy is probably sick of me using that phrase to describe myself, but it is true.) I have a M.Div. from Brite Divinity School and am currently attending George Mason University in the hopes of earning an MA in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. My academic interests center on the connection between terrorism and other forms of non-state violence, and state/institutional injustices. In the fall I will be applying to PhD programs in anthropology and history.  On the surface, my academic interests appear to have nothing to do with Back Bay Mission. Moreover, although academia and social services are not necessarily at odds with one another, they are not necessarily interconnected either (except for degrees that are specifically geared towards the social service industry).

So why am I here? What purpose could I have in spending time at a nonprofit in Biloxi Mississippi that focuses on poverty and homelessness at the local level?  Shouldn’t I be taking classes in the summer or interning at a think tank in DC that focuses specifically on terrorism? Interning at BBM seems to be random and out of place for someone with my interests. My professors and some of my classmates at George Mason University were definitely confused when I told them about my summer plans and I am sure some of the people I’ve met this past week have been wondering how I went from spending the school year studying terrorism to spending the summer focusing on homelessness and poverty. But I believe that this is where I need to be over the summer and that what I learn over the summer will only help me in my future endeavors. I am here because:

  • Nonprofit work is an area I am interested in exploring. Of course, one possible career option is working in academia but the reality is that academia is undergoing major shifts and the opportunities available are not as abundant as they used to be. As a result, I believe it is necessary for me to have an open mind about potential career opportunities. While I have some nonprofit experience, BBM is providing me with an opportunity to spend an extended amount of time learning about the ins and outs of nonprofit work; the struggles and the successes.
  • Moreover, the cliché of academia as the ‘ivory tower’ is simplistic, but it has a measure of truth to it. Focusing on large scale issues is important, but at least for me, academic work should propel social justice work forward. And the danger within academia is to become so involved in research and large scale issues that you forget about the people that you claim to want to help. And while there is something to be said about studying just for the sake of studying, in my mind, if my research doesn’t contribute, at least in a small way, to making the world a better place, I am wasting my time. Back Bay Mission is forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone of books and research and to talk with real human beings who are suffering and struggling.  
  • Many large scale issues are interconnected and while on the practical level it is necessary to separate them in order to tackle them, it is also important to remember that there aren’t always clear divisions separating issues that impact the most vulnerable. For instance, terrorism is a complex subject and there is no singular reason why some individuals join terrorist groups. Moreover, different terrorist groups might have different reasons for engaging in violence. However, in at least some cases poverty plays a role in allowing terrorist groups to gain recruits and to gain strong holds in certain areas. Additionally, western countries are scaling back on social services and beefing up their military presence in hopes of defeating terrorism. Not only is such an approach doomed to failure, but it risks hurting citizens in a deeper and more prolonged way. Al Qaeda and ISIS wish they could harm and kill as many citizens as poverty and homelessness does. Despite what the media says, it is important to recognize that terrorism in the west is relatively rare. Poverty and homelessness, however, are not.
  • Graduate school is pretty solitary. I have great professors and classmates, and I am part of a fantastic campus Christian group. However, the majority of my time is not spent in the classroom but rather on my own doing research. Most of the time I love that, but even as an introvert there is such a thing as too much alone time. And when dealing with difficult subjects it is easy to feel hopeless and when one is isolated it is easy to feel as if no one else cares about the injustices going on. Being at BBM serves as a reminder that there are plenty of people who do care about helping others.  And it is always helpful to have multiple people to turn to when dealing with a frustrating and at times, unjust world.

I have no doubt Back Bay Mission is where I am supposed to be right now.

…and the food is great.

It also doesn’t hurt to be near the beach…

Introducing Our 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Interns

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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.

Applications for the Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship Are Due Tomorrow!

By | Internships, Volunteering

Are you a young adult between the ages of 19 and 35? Are you passionate about social justice? Would you like to spend ten weeks this summer living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and working closely with staff at Back Bay Mission?

The Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship is an amazing opportunity for you! During this ten week internship, you’ll work closely with Mission staff, and learn about social service and justice work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You can learn more, and download the application, here.

But there’s no time to waste. Applications are due tomorrow!

Applications for the 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship Are Due March 1

By | Internships, Volunteering

The deadline for applications for the 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship is approaching!

The Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship provides young adults between the ages of 19 and 35 with a unique opportunity to participate in a 10-week summer program tailored to their interests. Drawing on the Mission’s long experience in community engagement and advocacy for justice, the internship will nurture participants’ passion for social justice and develop their appreciation for the church’s role in seeking social justice.

Applications must be submitted by March 1. Notifications will be made by March 31.

The internship will run from June 5 until August 11.

You can read more about the internship, and download the application, here.

Apply for the 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship

By | Internships, Volunteering

Back Bay Mission is now accepting applications for the 2017 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship!

The Shari Prestemon Social Justice Internship provides young adults between the ages of 19 and 35 with a unique opportunity to participate in a 10-week summer program tailored to their interests. Drawing on the Mission’s long experience in community engagement and advocacy for justice, the internship will nurture participants’ passion for social justice and develop their appreciation for the church’s role in seeking social justice.

Applications must be submitted by March 1. Notifications will be made by March 31.

The internship will run from June 5 until August 11.

You can read more about the internship, and download the application, here.

A Journal Entry from Sheryl Garcia

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The 2016 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Interns have graciously agreed to share their experiences with all of us. From time to time, we’ll be posting ‘journal entries’ from Sharell Shippen and Sheryl Garcia. Below is one of these entries.

Since this is my last journal, I wanted to take the time to thank everyone here at Back Bay Mission (BBM) for allowing me to enter their world and showing me the ropes. I truly appreciate everything y’all do.

I have spent some time this summer answering phones, filing papers, and entering data into QuickBooks, something that many people would consider ‘busy work’ and a waste of a summer. I will not lie and say that I did not at one point think the same myself, but as the time passed and I saw how Back Bay Mission functions as a whole, I began to see the importance all these ‘little’ jobs have. I got to alleviate the stress and amount of work staff members had to do and in turn I got to witness them work their magic and move Back Bay Mission along in accomplishing different goals. Just recently I have gotten to experience what it means to be the administrative assistant here at Back Bay Mission and let me just say: it is not a task to be taken lightly. The assistant is usually the first person you talk to when you call BBM and the first person you see when you walk through the front door. S/he handles day-to-day tasks from answering phones and filing documents to handling postage and keeping everyone informed about what is going on at BBM. The current assistant is someone who has taught me that it is important to not let people walk all over you because they think you are just the assistant. Her job is so much more than being just the assistant and how you see yourself will reflect how others see you.

My time working with the accountant has been very eye opening as well. Back home in Dallas I do similar work (on a much smaller scale) so I offered my skills thinking I would be inputting data and going about my day. Instead, I have learned the ins and outs of what makes BBM function (behind the scenes). I have learned that the donations and mission groups from the UCC and other organizations and individuals are a true blessing to BBM. I have even gotten to enhance my QuickBooks skills and found that a lot of the vendors BBM uses my job in Dallas also uses! That might just be because these vendors are very popular…but still…

This summer I also got to spend a lot of time with the community relations person. I got to attend various meetings and networking events and have seen what it means to make connections in the community and how that affects Back Bay Mission.

One of the biggest projects I have gotten to participate in was the changing of the mission statement. It was amazing to not only witness a group of people exchanging ideas and coming up with statements that best summarize Back Bay Mission, but to have my opinion also taken into consideration and being a part of the change. I never knew what really went into the marketing and advertising side of a business or non-profit but I now understand how important and beneficial it is to network and to have your organization be seen in a positive and well-known way.

All of the behind the scenes jobs may not be very hands on and what Back Bay Mission is known for, but it would be a mistake to think that what they do is not important and vital to BBM. I admire the work they do and I know BBM would not be around if it were not for them. So thank you!

Two programs I have spent the most time with this summer are the Emergency Assistance and Food Pantry programs. I was especially interested in the food pantry because my university has a food pantry that I hope to contribute to and work in. Like with many things, my first few days of running the pantry were hectic. It seemed like there was so much information that needed to be entered and we only had a short time to serve all the people who came in and HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY GET IT DONE?!?!?

Then the caseworker looked at me and said, “we are not fast food, they will all be served so there is no need to rush.” Once I had that drilled into my head it felt like the easiest job to do, depending on the day. I did not expect how rewarding it feels to have someone thank you for walking them through a pantry and letting them choose what food they want. A lot of the people I assisted felt comfortable enough to hold conversations with me and wouldn’t ya know… they are people too! (sarcasm) It is a great feeling to know that for the few minutes you were in the pantry with them you are making a difference, maybe not to the world, maybe not to the whole community, but to that particular person.

One of the most physically demanding programs is the housing rehab program. I only got to spend a certain amount of days working with them, but in those few days I gained such an appreciation for what it means to work not only on houses, but in the community. The work that the housing rehab program does impacts the community and those around them tremendously. They are not just fixing houses, they are creating room for growth and the possibility for those living in the houses to live a more comfortable life without the stress and worry of holding the pieces of their house together. The summer days were not kind to me or the other volunteers, yet we still managed to get in a full day’s work everyday. It still amazes me to think about how excited each volunteer group was to go out every day and work on different projects knowing that what they’re doing directly affects someone living on the coast. I now understand why the housing rehab program is such a huge part of Back Bay Mission and I look forward to returning with my church as a mission group and spending a week working with them again.

Back Bay Mission does so much more than I knew walking through Dr. Graham’s door on my first day. They are not just an organization that assists those experiencing homelessness. They are not just a place where people can go to get food on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They are not just a place where those who need rental assistance or have housing repairs that need to be done can go. Back Bay Mission is a place where when you walk through the front door you are greeted and offered the best help possible. A place that has a mission to give a hand up (not a hand out) to those who truly need it. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to spend my summer interning at Back Bay Mission and I look forward to what the future holds and seeing how the knowledge I have gained will play a role in my life.

See a Collection of Sheryl’s Photos on Facebook

A Journal Entry from Sheryl Garcia

By | Internships

The 2016 Shari Prestemon Social Justice Interns have graciously agreed to share their experiences with all of us. From time to time, we’ll be posting ‘journal entries’ from Sharell Shippen and Sheryl Garcia. Below is one of these entries.

This summer I was fortunate enough to not only work alongside another intern, but share a house with long term volunteers from whom I learned a great deal.

I feel like I say this a lot, but this summer did not turn out exactly as I planned. I have learned, though, that what I have planned and what God has planned do not have to match. I did not anticipate sharing a house with three other people, or briefly sharing a room for that matter. At first, the idea of living in a house full of strangers was uncomfortable – I mean, what if we did not get along? What if the other people found me annoying? WHAT IF… but luckily ‘what ifs’ do not count for anything and my time with the other house guests was enjoyable. I learned how to manage space (especially in the fridge… just kidding) and the importance of personal space. Just because you live together does not mean you have to spend every minute of every day with each other. My house mates were all very independent, something I have never had to be, and I have started to grasp at the idea that it is okay to do things by yourself even if it feels weird. To my own surprise I was able to venture out on my own, go sightseeing and eat at a restaurant alone. No one looked at me weird or tried messing with me (which was my biggest concern) and it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my time here and how to apply everything I have learned to my life back in Dallas.

My housemates have taught me that sometimes opportunities do not just fall into your lap and if you want something it is best to just go out and look for it! I have been inspired by the things my housemates have done and the places they have traveled and I look forward to seeking out my own opportunities in the future.

It has been a great summer and while I now have the house to myself (yay!) I am glad I had the opportunity to work with and learn from others volunteering/interning here at Back Bay Mission. 

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