Each month, a Johnson Service Corps Member will introduce themselves to you in their own words. For November, we invite you to meet Eli!
My name is Emmanuel Gemora (Eli for short). I moved here from Washington state and when I arrived for my year of service, it was my first time stepping foot in North Carolina (and only my second time on the East Coast)! I have really enjoyed living here. The wildlife and weather are quite different from what I am used to and I have been excitedly discovering things such as heat lightning, okra, and cicadas. I have also enjoyed getting to know my fellow corps members. I am living in Carrboro with four other people, and we have settled into a pretty full routine: business meetings every Thursday, grocery shopping on Fridays, workouts five days a week, and a house-wide spiritual activity every Sunday. In our free time, we watch TV together, go to local events, or hang out with the corps members living in Durham (though most of the time we just sit quietly in the living room reading or browsing the Internet).
In my spiritual life, I have been exploring other denominations/religions in between attending The Church of the Advocate. During the week, I have a mantra for when I wake up, a lectio divina podcast, a series of prayers for walking to work each day, and books on Buddhism I read while eating breakfast. Soon I will also begin attending a Baha’i book study once a week. From all directions I have found that I am being taught to see all people with compassion and in their full humanity.
For my service year, I am partnered with Compass Center for Women and Families. Compass Center is a no-profit group located in Chapel Hill which works on “helping individuals and families navigate their journeys to self-sufficiency, safety, and health.” This involves a wide variety of things such as providing career and financial workshops, legal information services, sexual health education classes for teens, and comprehensive domestic violence support services.
I work in Information and Referral, a section of Compass Center almost entirely staffed by volunteers. We are the first people you speak with when you call or come into the office. We act as receptionists, collect lists of helpful resources for clients, and sign people up for services. For clients who are uncertain of what they need or are feeling lost, we help them figure out who or what could be helpful to them and provide a listening ear.
I am the Information and Referral Backup which requires that I help keep things running smoothly and manage the volunteers (scheduling their shifts, helping them with phone calls, keeping track of small office details, etc.). My desk near the front door and the hallways means I can easily keep track of where people are in the office and which rooms are in use. My consistent hours (I am in the office the whole day, every week day except Friday) mean I usually know about any updates, changes, or details within the office. I also try to keep our database relevant, the brochures in the waiting room tidy and up to date, check that reports are correctly filled out, and order the diapers and food we provide for some clients. Compass Center is a very busy, complex place, but it is filled with staff and volunteers who are dedicated, calm, and patient which adds a peaceful environment to the cozy house that is our office. I feel blessed to be working at Compass Center and look forward to the rest of my year.