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More Than Roommates: A Reflection on Community

I have long struggled with a sense that I am not good enough and will never live up to my own expectations or those of others. Though I was excited to begin work at my service site and to get to know my two community members back in August, this self-doubt engendered a lot of anxiety. Would I be able to succeed in work (case management) with a population (those experiencing homelessness) with which I had absolutely no experience? Would I be a good roommate and friend to the two strangers with whom I was living? Would I be able to do either of these things in a completely new city, far away from friends and family?

Since my first weeks as a Mercy Volunteer, when I was dealing with these unknowns (and more), my community has been a tremendous support—one that I didn’t even know I needed. I’ve had plenty of roommates in the past, and though we were friendly, we generally lived our own independent lives, coming back to our shared living space only to sequester ourselves away in our own rooms. Coming into my Mercy Year, I had prepared myself for more of the same. However, between community dinners and spirituality nights, shared experiences of adjusting to the volunteer life and exploring a new city, the three of us have come to a level of familiarity and openness that I have rarely experienced outside of my immediate family, much less with roommates. Living in community has given me a sense of strength, confidence, and comfort in my own skin that has carried into my work at my service site. While I initially joined Mercy Volunteer Corps because of the service experience, over the past few months community life has unexpectedly become one of the most valuable components of my Mercy year!

Caroline Magee: Pittsburgh

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