It has been a little over a month since my service year with Mercy Volunteer Corps finished up and I moved back to Philadelphia. I often think about how this time last year I was getting settled into my new home in Cincinnati, starting work at my service site, and beginning to meet my new community members, coworkers, and neighbors (the Sisters on the street). Everything was new and I was no longer surrounded by the comforts of home, my family, or my friends. I served in Cincinnati, OH at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, a multi-purpose human services agency focused on empowering disadvantaged individuals. As a Support Services Specialist, I made home visits with elderly persons, shopped with clients in the Food Pantry, completed tasks for the Home Care Department and Nurse Aide Training Program, administered testing and tutoring in the Workforce Development Programs, and helped in the community garden! To say my year was full of variety would be an understatement! The remaining constant was that behind every act, no matter how big or how small, was a person. A person that stood in front of me in need of food, in need of an education, in need of resources, and most importantly in need of love and an ear to listen.
The experiences and people I met throughout my year with Mercy Volunteer Corps have forever changed me. Last spring, I remember walking through the neighborhoods of Cincinnati to the community garden and waving and saying hi to each person by name as I passed. These were not just people on the street, people on the sidewalks of corner stores, or people outside of Section 8 housing; rather, these were people that I had come to know and care about through my time at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries. In listening to the hardships and stories of our clients, I have learned that those who seemingly have the least, often have the greatest faith. I have learned that small acts carry great meaning. I have learned that the people who surround you, make up your world. I have learned to trust in God. I have learned that LOVE is everywhere. And heck, I’ve learned a lot about myself along the way!
My year with Mercy Volunteer Corps has lead me to pursue a career in nursing, as I hope to continue to provide care and compassion to every person I meet. I am very grateful to the Cincinnati Mercy community for all their support and guidance throughout my year as a volunteer and moving forward. From the moment my community members and I arrived in Cincinnati, we were greeted with welcome baskets, homemade food on our doorstep, warm smiles, check-in calls, and invites to gatherings and events! This support continued throughout the entire year and was a very special part of my time in Cincinnati. I cannot thank Mercy Volunteer Corps, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, and the entire Cincinnati Mercy community enough for this incredible opportunity that helped me find myself, by losing myself in the service of others.
Mary Maletz: Cincinnati 2017-2018