Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nashville Epiphany Project

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.

27 comments:

Scotty said...

I am SURE you will have a great experience. When able to be around, work with, and teach children, I find that they amaze me in more ways than I can count. I mean, it isnt too often that you can actually see the impact you make on someone. And with you being there for that amount of time, you are definitely going to see some positive changes. Good on you, and look forward to your stories :)

AaroN said...

What? :(

I guess I'll have to donate the low-tech way. Please send me the address.

e.b. said...

Thank you. I am really glad you took the time to explain, it helps to understand and know more. I really can't wait to hear your tales over the next year! I know it is still a month of way but of course best wishes. I know you will do a wonderful job if not only because you are dedicated.

Still just me said...

I am amazed at your bravery. You have been strong enough to quit what was I imagine a very stable job, and do what you feel is the right thing for you to do.

My experience with children, although never at a professional level, is to always listen, without judgement. I think you will find that you will learn just as much from them as they will from you.

brookem said...

i remember you talking about this a while back, when you were looking into different options, going through the whole process. i too, want to extend my best wishes to you ally! i think this is an amazing experience you are about to embark on. you are truly a good, good person to devote your time to such a worthy cause.

cdp said...

So I'm all like following your links trying to figure out how to make a donation, and then in a stroke of brilliance I read the rest of the post where you have so kindly provided this information for us. Thanks!

What a wonderful thing this is you are doing. I thank God when I say my prayers at night for people like you, Ally. I really do. And I know that sounds way cheesy but it's true. I'm so excited for you and can't wait to hear all about the great things you're up to in the coming year.

ella w. said...

I'm so glad that you finally posted info on this! Raising money for a mission trip is definitely a bit daunting, so much that I was willing to pay for all my trip to Venezuela. (I can't tell you how bummed I cannot go, but next year I want to go to Egypt).

And hurray for your own room/bathroom. God answers prayers...

I guess I'll have to donate via snail mail!

a life uncommon said...

Mission trips are life changing... I think more so in the life of the one who goes on the trip than the one the trip is surrounded around.

Whenever we go to Mexico my heart breaks and is opened once again to the pain and suffering out there. Where I live or what I have becomes meaningless.

I just wish our mission trips could impact the others life as much as it impacts our own.

Ys said...

It sounds like a really fulfilling job to take on. I hope you have a really wonderful time and help many children along the way :) I look forward to hearing all aobut it.

brandy said...

Way to go Ally! This sounds like it's going to be an amazing adventure and something that you will really be thankful for doing for the rest of your life. I'm excited for you- it sounds like it's going to be a really rewarding and challenging experience. My advice for working with junior high students- expect them to be much smarter than you think. I'm not sure when it started, or if it's just a 'thing' around here, but there's a 'dumbing down' act that they try to pull. Make them laugh, be yourself and you will have them eating out of the palm of your hand.

Jeff Price said...

Great to hear about some specifics of what you'll be doing! Working with middle school kids, huh.....you're gonna need lots of prayer! lol That is a challenging age on all fronts – emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually, but eventually a ray of light shines and there is hope. I can’t wait to see how God uses your strengths and weaknesses to grow these kids and you in grace.

And if someone uses online banking to send checks it can still technically be a high-tech way of sending money :-)

Pam said...

Sounds like a great opportunity and I look forward to hearing your stories.

Jordan said...

Yeah, if you have online banking (like I do at WAMU, you can send free "checks" to people by filling out a couple lines)

Ally... you are truly an inspiration.

Bethany said...

Well, I was going to say what Jordan said ~ online banking is the way to do these kinds of things. Take it from a banker! :) I admire you, Allison, for stepping out and doing something so brave that will touch so many young lives. My lil is 12, and I can tell you this: Those middle aged kids are so fragile. They have experienced things and seen things we can't even imagine. You will be a source of stability, inspiration, and salvation that they desperately need. We are praying for you!!!

Ally said...

Please forgive any typos--I can see the computer screen in a hazy sort of way and am taking Percocet:)

Bethany: Thank you so much for your prayers and advice. And btw, you're my favorite new commenter:)

Jordan: Being how cheap I am, I definitely do online banking (and even online tithing) to save on the cost of checks and stamps.

Pam: I am sure I'll have plenty!

Jeff: I am so excited to see how God is going to grow and challenge us too. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity.

Brandy: I very much appreciate the insight, and I'll take care to not underestimate them.

Ys: You're right--it'll be very fulfilling.

A Life Uncommon: I've never been on any type of mission trip, but I've heard several people express that they feel like the mission blessed them even more than the people they are serving. I love how helping others is the best gift you can give yourself.

Ella: It does feel like a bit of an answered prayer to not have to deal with the difficulties of sharing so much personal space. And I really hope a mission will work out for you soon with your new job. Thanks for all of your encouragement too!

cdp: It's so all God--He has worked in me the last few years so much, and it's been such a blessing--and transformation. And I will definitely be needing your prayers this fall!

brookem: Muchas gracias! It's been a neat process.

Still Just Me: Good advice--children often need the space and quietness to really open up, so I'll have to make sure I remember to keep my mouth shut:)

e.b.: Thank you. I have a feeling this month is going to fly by.

Aaron: Are you just skimming my blogs???:) The address is at the end of the post, but I'll e-mail it to you too.

Scotty: You're right--being able to stick around for 11 months will be rewarding as I can hopefully see changes--probably in myself as well. Thanks!

Jeff Price said...

Online tithing....I have thought about that myself. Being a tech kinda guy I am naturally inclined towards that and have even thought about setting up church websites with the ability to do that. However I also see tithing as an active part of worship where we bring our offering to the Lord corporately, so I have refrained from doing it for those reasons. But it is definitely one of those ways where 21st century efficiency could help the Church. I just question the cost it has on the heart at worship.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Ally said...

Jeff: I had not thought about it as a corporate act of worship, but I see what you're saying. I started online tithing for two reasons: The first was because I often was out of town and not attending my hometown church on the Sunday after payday and would "get behind" on tithing. Then all of sudden I'd "owe" a lot and feel overwhelmed by what I should give and then just end up not tithing. The second reason I prefer online tithing is because I like giving to the Lord from my paycheck deposit before I do anything else. I guess it's just symbolic in a way, but I love that I give back to Him before I pay bills, save, etc. and make tithing my very first financial priority.

Of course, I also appreciate a different point of view as I too could be wrong:)

Leiselb said...

You go girl...this is great....

Jeff Price said...

That's a great point as well...first fruits going to the Lord and all.

The obvious solution is that we start having worship services in internet cafes on Fridays, so that we can all participate in our online tithing together. Right?! :-)

Clearlykels said...

I've never gone on a mission trip-- I admire you for doing this. A friend of mine chaperoned our kids this year and said that I had to do it-- as do the kids. Who knows. I'm sure I'll do one eventually. Your work and devotion is certainly a gift to everyone.

Kimberly said...

This sounds like such an awesome opportunity. I am definitely praying. If you ever need encouragement on how to live on a stipend (that's how I'm living these days too) just call me! :) I'm excited for you. You will love Nashville I'm sure. Look up my friend Joseph sometime: www.xanga.com/coatsbrown

Lost said...

This sounds awesome! I am, as always, excited and eager, to hear about this next part of your life! Living out what you are passionate about is not only admirable, but what life is really about!

The Egg said...

Good luck sister! You give me hope as I embark on my 'strange' path. I'll send whatever I can afford:) By the way, tell Billy Bob that I wasn't insulting his intelligence. Just surprised by blunt comments from well-educated people (i.e. stupid, waste of time, blah blah). I've heard many insults from professionals (i.e. physicians) about the choices that I've made (some of which were beyond my control). At the end of the day, you have to happy with your decisions.

angel, jr. said...

Good luck!!
Let us know how things progress!

Flat Coke and Flies said...

Hey pumpkin!! Looks like we'll be neighbors soon!!! I'm so glad you're moving to Nashville. It's a great city with a lot to offer. I hope everything works out for you here. I know this blogger thing is weird but I'm offering that if you ever need anything I'll do whatever I can. If I can help you find anything just email & I'll send my digits to you. Maybe you could bring a group to a hockey game this year!!!

Allen Madding said...

I'm excited for you. I am sure your life will be deeply enriched over the next year!

Princess Extraordinaire said...

Wow - what an opportunity to have an enriching life experience - it sounds like an adventure waiting to happen...