This post is a little over due--as Ella manages to kindly remind me in her emails:) And from talking with friends, I realize that I've only sort of informed some people of what exactly it is that I'll be doing this next year. So here it goes:
On September 1st I am moving to Nashville, Tennessee to begin an eleven month position with the Nashville Epiphany Project, which is part of the Young Adult Volunteer Program of the Presbyterian Church (USA). It's sort of like AmeriCorps meets Christianity.
Funny--when I was part of AmeriCorps back in 1998 I worked with a guy named Thomas who was what Billy would call an "uber-Christian," and I thought his beliefs and practices were very odd. I used to ask him questions as if he were from another planet or something. I never would have imagined that about ten years later that I would not only share his views but believe that sharing my faith with others is one of the most important things I can do.
And my position with NEP will give me the opportunity to do so as well as grow in my faith and serve others. My primary responsibility will be my Monday through Friday job with Preston Taylor Ministries (PTM). PTM was formed to confront many of the issues that arise in public housing, such as drug use, illiteracy, and gang involvement. Specifically I will be working in an after-school and summer program for junior high aged children who live in public housing. I will also be coordinating a lunch-mate mentoring program for children at local schools and a job shadowing program. I'll also work with high schools students, preparing them to serve as mentors to younger children. In addition to those responsibilities, I'll be working at the church some, although the specifics will not be worked out until I've gotten settled in.
The other NEP volunteer (she's been in Guatemala this last year!) and I will live in a small house (nicknamed "the tool shed" because of its size and appearance) on the church's property. Today I learned that there are only two volunteers this year, so it looks like I will NOT be sharing a bedroom or bathroom. I must admit that this information makes me incredibly happy since I'm an introvert and need a lot of alone time to recharge.
Part of my responsibility is also raising support--both spiritual and financial. I'm asking for prayers for wisdom, patience, and understanding as I work with junior high students for the first time. This will be 100% different from the individuals I've served the last three years as an attorney, and I suspect middle school aged children will present challenges that I've not faced while working with younger children. Should be interesting--and rewarding. I love the idea of helping to enable children with the gifts of education and faith--especially children who have not been given so many of the blessings that I enjoyed at their age.
The approximate cost of my year of service is $18,000; that amount includes housing, utilities, health insurance, a monthly stipend, etc. The general presbytery covers some of this expense as does Second Presbyterian and the agencies we serve. I am asked to raise $4,000 of this amount, and I must admit that this task is one of the more daunting parts of this process for me. I guess asking people for money, even when it is for a wonderful cause, makes me uncomfortable. Thankfully I have a lot of friends who have done this before and encourage and support me in this regard. If any of you would like to donate any money, I would certainly appreciate it. Unfortunately there isn't a quick high-tech way (i.e. credit card or Paypal), but you can send a check made payable to Second Presbyterian Church attn: NEP. Please write my name on the memo line and mail it to the following address: Second Presbyterian attn: NEP, 3511 Belmont Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37215.
And of course, I'll be keeping you guys posted as things progress. Only one month until I get started!
p.s. I'm grateful the accountability, love, and support my best friend Nicole gives me.