Hi, I'm Grace Sanford, a Mercy Volunteer in Cincinnati, Ohio! I've been journaling every day…
When people ask me why I decided to do a year of service with Mercy Volunteer Corps, I usually start by saying that my journey here was not typical. I came to the program very late, with only a few options for service sites and cities. I had a lot of apprehension about making this life-altering decision in only a month. However, even though the change scared me there was something inside me that told me to take the leap. Now that I’m here, I am very grateful that I did.
Cincinnati was never somewhere I thought I would end up. I came here not really knowing what to expect from a midwest city. To my surprise, it has been an exciting place to live and I am so lucky to get to explore this new city with my community member, Susan. She and I are a few generations apart, so before coming here we were worried that our age gap might make living in community together difficult; however, she has become one of my best friends here and I love going on adventures with her. The way she embraces life and people is beautiful. She brings this warm energy to every encounter and truly sees every individual she meets. Exploring a new city with someone who seeks out human connection with such passion has made this experience even more wonderful.
Coming to my service site was also an unusual journey. I studied Design and Merchandising in college, thinking I wanted to go into the fashion industry; but I could not shake this feeling that I wanted to do something that helped others. I chose the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center because I wanted to use the business skills I had learned in school in a non-profit setting. My experience here has been so much more interesting than I could have imagined. I have been learning about the systemic issues that lead to the need for direct service. It has been truly eye-opening to see how deeply rooted and complex these issues are. The more I learn the more clear it becomes that education and advocacy are a key part of bringing about systemic change. This work is challenging because systemic change is slow and you oftentimes do not get to see the results of your hard work. On the other hand, it can be very rewarding because education is such an integral part of moving systemic change forward. I am very grateful for everything I have learned at IJPC so far and I am excited to keep learning more.
This MVC experience has surprised me in many ways. It may not have been an easy decision, but I am glad I followed that gut feeling and took a chance on Mercy Volunteer Corps. When you do something scary but exciting you will grow in ways you never expected.
Chloe Corkery: Cincinnati, Ohio