Hey! My name is Catie Richardson. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. I moved away in 2012 to attend Florida State University (Go Noles!) and stayed an extra year in Tallahassee to work at a dermatologist’s office as a medical assistant to gain experience in medicine. I chose to apply to the Episcopal Service Corps, and in the end, Johnson Service Corps because I have always felt a strong pull to live a year fully entrenched in service and spiritual development. JSC answered that call and the rest is history!
I am a resident of the Carrboro house; it has been a blessing to share in an intentional community with my four housemates. Arriving to JSC, I could not have even begun to describe what an intentional community actually is nor would I have expected it to be such a positive experience. Intentional community is so much more than just sharing space together. It is about being accountable to four other people. It is creating space for everyone’s needs to be expressed. It is being persistent in our practices together. It is taking on our frustrations head on, and about being honest with each other. I think our intentional community has made us better companions and me a better friend to others. We’re also a community that loves to laugh, goof around, and blow off some steam. I have personally loved singing along to our personal Spotify playlist, curling up on the couch to watch a movie series or The Office, and making some pretty amazing dinners together.
My placement site at Club Nova has taught me so much about relationships and what it means to truly be accountable to those you serve. I spend most of my days in the Culinary Unit, helping to prepare meals for about 30-40 people each day. It has been a joy to learn new recipes and new cooking techniques, all while working alongside of members and staff alike. I also spend some of my time in Thrift Store; it has really been difficult this year to live simply when I am surrounded by clothes and shoes every week! I have also gotten to tag along on several socials, my personal favorite being a day at the North Carolina fair. What I love most about Club Nova is how focused it is on building relationships. Without a solid foundation in relationship with our members, Club Nova cannot function. Everything that happens in the clubhouse is the combined effort of members and staff from menu planning to accounting to thrift store maintenance to whether or not we need a new microwave. Nothing is done without member consent, and I think that is what makes Club Nova so successful. We are accountable to the population we are aiming to serve which means our decisions are based off of exactly what they have articulated they need and want. We do not make decisions blindly but always with direction from those who will be impacted by our decisions. None of this would be possible without respected and trusted relationships. As someone who wants to continue work in social justice (as most of us in JSC do) and in healthcare specifically, this is a lesson that I will carry with me far beyond JSC.
I have noticed that my approach to spirituality has changed over the course of this year. My spiritual life has largely been focused on what communities I am a part of and what I do in those communities. Now, don’t get me wrong, involvement in spiritual community is still a vital part of my spiritual life. Celebrating the Eucharist weekly in a worshipping community is something that I view as a necessity in my life. However, through this year, I have come to realize just how important my personal spiritual life is to my overall physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. By exploring different ways of connecting with God on a personal level through my daily life, I have noticed a distinct difference in how I interact with the world around me. I have felt more connected to others and more connected to my own needs and emotions because I have been working to cultivate regular, spiritual practices. Currently, I start my day either with Morning Prayer or listening to the Pray-As-You-Go podcast, and I end my day with a quick meditation, reading, or Compline. While I’m obviously not perfect, I have noticed that I am a more patient, compassionate, and understanding person when maintaining my spiritual practices. It is the combination of community and personal spiritual life that will sustain me throughout life.
My experience with JSC has been enriching, challenging, and engaging. Saying goodbye in several weeks will most certainly not be easy, but I am so grateful for the lessons and opportunities that have been and will be afforded to me through JSC.