Throughout my years at Misericordia University, I fell in love with the charisms that were at the core of the school’s ethos. One of these charisms that Misericordia promotes is service and while attending this Mercy school this value quickly became part of my being. I took advantage of the many facets of service the school offered from service trips abroad in Jamaica and Guyana to leading the local Habitat for Humanity. As my time began to dwindle down at Misericordia and graduation was soon approaching, I needed to figure out the next step in my life. It was at this time that Mercy Volunteer Corps was introduced to me by my Campus Ministry Director and it seemed like the obvious choice. Being uncertain of my time ahead, Mercy Volunteer Corps gave me an opportunity to gain real life experience and follow my passion of service.
After the interview process with Mercy Volunteer Corps, I found myself accepted to volunteer at my current service site, FOCUS Pittsburgh! FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve, and/or Food Occupation Clothing Understanding and Shelter. I serve as a Human Services Coordinator seeing to the issues of anyone who enters the doors of FOCUS and offering triage. I listen to their life stories and try to address the issues to the best of my ability with the resources available. The services I provide include food distributed from the food bank; clothing; vouchers for ID’s and Birth Certificates in order for people to get employment or any type of further assistance from the government; and local resources for any additional help. FOCUS Pittsburgh also has a free health center that people are able to attend if they fall between the gap of making too much money yet not enough to have health insurance. Being the point person for all who enter, I assisted the Health Center in various tasks contributing to the growth of more patients attending dentists, counselors, and physicians. The end of my week consists of working with the backpack feeding program, which helps feed over two thousand children five meals each weekend. FOCUS partners with the food bank to supply the food, and then FOCUS organizes the packing and distribution. The children FOCUS serves through this program are those who have unstable homes and are in need of a stable food source for the weekends.
Overall, I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to spend a year in solidarity serving the community of the Hill District in Pittsburgh. My time in this primarily African-American community was, I hope, of equal growth for both the community and myself.
I would like to especially thank The Sisters of Mercy who are truly a blessing in my life from my first year at Misericordia University to my time of service with Mercy Volunteer Corps, and now to my future studies as a graduate student at Carlow University! Thank you to all of the sisters, associates, and all those who dedicate their lives to helping us Mercy Volunteers serve. And to Mercy Volunteer Corps, thank you!
Conor Brennan: Pittsburgh, PA