A Perfect Fit In Progress

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By Stephanie Vogelman, FC 21

I have been surrounded by the idea of service throughout my entire life. My parents were the first people to introduce service and the different ways to serve to my sister and me. My dad served our country in the United States Navy and went on to serve locally in the Philadelphia Fire Department for over twenty years. Now he serves on an even smaller level by working as a postal worker, where he delivers mail to our community members and has formed relationships with the residents that are along his daily route. He has served many people around the world in many ways and I admire him for that. My mom, on the other hand, has practiced service in a more intimate way. When my sister and I were born, she dedicated the first several years of our lives to raising us. She made the sacrifice to be a stay at home mom and teach us how to be loving and kind to each other and to others. Both are incredible role models and I am so blessed to have such a great example set by them throughout childhood.

Fast forward to my senior year of college about to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Social Work, I took what I learned from them, and what I had learned from involvement in many service projects through Campus Ministry and through the Social Work Program and knew that service was what I wanted to do for the rest my life. But the tough question was: how? As my senior year drew on, I thought about my possible options, including grad school, finding a job in the social work field, or doing a year of service. The third option seemed like an impossible reality because of the pressure of society telling me that after school the expectation was to find a job, move out into your own place and start your life. I tried telling myself that this was not the right option for me; however, something always brought me back to the idea of this year long commitment to service. After a lot of thought and prayer, I realized that I would not be putting my life on hold but rather it would be a wonderful start to a new journey.

I started to research what program would be the best fit for me but could not seem to find one that encompassed all my values and interests. One day, I stumbled across the Franciscan Service Network website and saw this symbol of a sun with FrancisCorps next to it.  I thought it was different and interesting, so I clicked the link to website and fell in love with it instantly. FrancisCorps was everything I was looking for and more! Since my college was Franciscan, I had already fallen in love with the charism. I also loved the emphasis of community encouraged by the program because I love being around people and forming meaningful relationships with them. I was also intrigued by the work I could be doing with populations I had never worked with previously. I knew that this was where I wanted to dedicate the next year of my life to. It was a perfect fit.

Now, we’ve have been here about three months and the experiences that have been put in front of me have been challenging but also rewarding. Living in community with five other people, who have come from all over the country and even other parts of the world, has been such a blessing and I am excited to see how our journey will unfold throughout the rest of this year. Living in a new community completely different than what I am used to was an adjustment especially being around many different cultures in a small area. However, it has given me a chance to learn about what Syracuse has to teach me. I am serving at Cathedral Emergency Services and that has been an adventure all in its own. The clients that come in keep me on my toes with their various needs and I try to help in the best way I can, even if it is just acknowledging that they are not in their struggles alone. All the components of this experience are new and exciting, but what excites me the most is to see who and what I encounter will teach me and push me to serve others in the best way I can. I still feel that FrancisCorps is a perfect fit, but one that will definitely be a work in progress.

Accidental Joy

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By Caroline Friedmann, FC 21

My FrancisCorps journey started by accident. Nine months ago, I was in Indianapolis attending a FOCUS conference, called SEEK, and was scouring the booths for free stickers. Our Associate Director, Johanna, was at the FrancisCorps booth and very supportive of my mission of obtaining stickers! She and I had a five minute conversation where she told me a small amount of information about the program she was representing. At that time of my life, I was planning on looking for research assistant jobs to take a break in between undergraduate and graduate school and paid her no mind.

However, God had other plans for me. The following month, our brief conversation replayed in my head, but I had forgotten the name of the organization. I stumbled upon the sticker Johanna had given me, immediately researched FrancisCorps, and applied that day. Up until this point, a year of service was not something I had even considered. Yet, a peace came after applying and later receiving an acceptance; the same peace that comes from trusting in God to lead one down an unknown path.

I have been settled in Syracuse, New York for a little over two months now. Incredible joy and absurd peace has been in every moment, every place, and every breath taken in these past twelve weeks. I am working at Northside CYO Refugee Resettlement. Already, I have learned more about other cultures, languages, and people than I expected. These next 11 months are sure to bring triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows, and I am looking forward to growing with my community, learning how to better love and serve alongside them.