In addition to people questioning my sanity and judgment when I decided to move across the country to volunteer, they also questioned why in the world I would intentionally decide to move in with three strangers. Most found the idea of moving in with a random roommate met online more palatable than establishing a community. My Baltimore community has been one of my greatest gifts (and occasional challenges) since starting my MVC year. In no specific order, here are the top four reasons why community life is the best life.
1. They are amazing cooks.
I sometimes joke that I have three wives and twenty-one children (I teach sixth graders). It is amazing to have three other people to split chores and cooking with! Not to mention these girls are amazing cooks: Kalene “I-just-don’t-know-how-to-cook”’s wizardry with whipping together what we have left in the kitchen has saved us many a night (#homemademacandcheese); Bella’s creativity with making fresh, healthy food taste good means that I will typically eat more vegetables in a week than in the entirety of my college career; and Rose’s homemade Nebraskan goodness means that I am never far from good Midwestern meals.
2. There’s always someone to do something with.
Want to discuss the election? Feel the need to jump in a freezing cold ocean? There’s a community member for that. Want late night ice cream? There are four for that. In all actuality, living in community is like a weird mesh of feeling like you’re in a sorority/dorm/family. There’s always someone to pick you up from the airport, or talk, or make sure dinner’s on the table when you stop home between work meetings. There’s also three other girls to give outfit advice on a Friday night and to encourage Sunday night Chinese takeout (RIP stipend).
3. They get it.
Whether it is Forget It Friday after a long work week where pajamas, Netflix, and pizza are mandated, or talking social justice issues over making dinner, these girls get what it means to be a Mercy Volunteer more than anyone else from home. They understand the gifts and challenges that come with full-time service, as well as what it means to be away from home while navigating post-college life. They are also ridiculously good at alliteration (Fiesta Friday with other volunteers being a notable one).
4. They are incredible women who challenge me to be more.
In all seriousness, this is an incredible group of women. I am constantly in awe of their ability to give of themselves all day at work and then still come home and be able to serve each other. They challenge me to be a better version of myself every day while still being able to have a ridiculous amount of fun on a budget. They embody the spirit of ‘Mama’ McAuley and the Circle of Mercy!
Katie Brown: Baltimore, Maryland