Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Two years of Opportunity and Change

Second year Dominican Volunteer Holly Sammons serves with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, working in their Permaculture Office. DVUSA is grateful for your service, wisdom, and compassion Holly, and we wish you the very best in future endeavors.

Holly on a tour of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

I write this post with only about six weeks left as a Dominican Volunteer.  It feels as if a two year chapter in my life is closing and yet there are many lessons, relationships, and skills that I will take with me.  My first year as a Dominican Volunteer I worked with newly arrived refugees in Atlanta, GA.  During those 11 months I learned about resilience and hope from the clients I worked with.  I thought of the hardships and loss of these people as I dealt with my own losses.  I struggled to cope with the death of my father while being so far from everyone and everything I knew.  During the over nine months I was in Atlanta following my father’s death I received love and support from my Atlanta community and friends in the area.  I also learned about my own strength and power as I strove to continue to do my best each day.  I gained confidence from my ministry and an understanding of the refugee resettlement process in the U.S.  I was given many opportunities to grow during this time and did my best to take them. 

  Near the end of my first year as a Dominican Volunteer I began discerning a second year of service.  I struggled to know what to do next as grief continued to color my everyday life.  After some careful thinking I decided to do a second year as a Dominican Volunteer in Adrian, MI with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.  I wanted to continue to grow and be of service while also working to heal myself. 

Like my time in Atlanta, my time in Michigan has been filled with many great opportunities and people.    I have been welcomed by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and been blessed to learn about the work of a whole congregation of amazing women religious.  I work in the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse and mostly split my time between their Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation and their Permaculture Office.  Through my work with the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation I have been able to travel to different events including the School of the Americas Watch Convergence at the Border in Arizona, the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C.  These events have opened my mind to new possibilities and ways of thinking.  I am so grateful for these incredible learning experiences.   

Through my work with the Permaculture Office I have expanded my knowledge of environmental issues and acquired some practical skills such as how to start seeds and plant.  I look forward to having my own home garden someday!

Throughout my time in Michigan ,I have continued to deal with my losses and tried to acknowledge the “progress” I have made.  Some days this is easier to do than others.  I have learned that grieving is much more complicated and messy that I ever realized when I began this journey but have moved forward with the help of family, friends and my communities in Atlanta and Adrian.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A World Dance

Our latest blog post comes from Dominican Volunteer Niki Klco. Niki serves as a teacher at St. Francis Center, an organization that serves immigrant children and adults in Redwood City California.
Thank you for your service, Nikki!

It is glorious to feel free! I’m telling you this because San Francisco and Redwood City offer freedom. The Bay Area is lovely, but the people here create the freedom. For all of my adult life I have strived for such feelings as celebratory normalcy. To me, this is such that each and every moment is both typical and joyous. I have yearned to know such confidence and independence. I believe deep down I knew I was capable of interacting with the world in this way… for why else would I have strived so hard and with such determination toward it? What I reference is not simply one issue: my anxiety, confidence, self-esteem, but rather myself as a whole. I am a new person. I am uncontrolled by fear. I have taken back my life and found the continual joy that seemed to only be able to be seen before at certain times.

How? Why? A mixture of circumstances and personalities have come together to mold me and strengthen my spirit. I live with a family here. We are non-traditional by most standards as we have 2 Sisters, 2 ladies, and 2 dogs. All of us are equally valuable. We love and serve independently, but also through the vision of community. For with our relationship there is no community. These relationships are what have taught me about myself and allowed me to see the love deeper and remember how it is always around. They have given me the strength to break free. From with whom I live and teach – to whom I coach with – individuals with drive, independence, advocacy, passion, and leadership. I have become one of them. What I’ve always wanted!

Amidst the deep-rooted trials of this world I am motivated to see the can-do. The value shines through every person I meet. WE are humanity. Together- we must function – together. I am not a typically philosophical person. However, the beauty of the past days has enabled me to write in this manner. Nothing that I have experienced stands out specifically, rather life in all forms.