Hi! I’m Emily. I came to Durham all the way from Houston, Texas, leaving behind a well-paying corporate job, a wonderful community, and a sense of stability. I’m so glad I did.
Even though I’m only two months into the service year, I’m already in awe of the people I’ve come to meet, the work I’ve gotten to take part in, and the journey I am beginning to see developing for me.
Living in the Durham house with roommates for the first time in . . . seven years? . . . has been an adventure. We started off building a community covenant together – planning three weekly meals to share, designating role and responsibilities, and talking about who we are and how we want to treat each other. It’s been fascinating to see that head-work slowly settle into heart-work as we move forward into living out our commitments and getting to know each other more deeply with every week that passes. We’ve found steady rhythms in cast-iron cooking, communal tea time, and weekly group-gatherings to binge The Good Place.
At work, I’ve been introduced to the world of grassroots policy research and lobbying for just financial practices at the Center for Responsible Lending. I’ve gotten my toes wet in the fight against predatory payday lending by writing op-eds for a ballot campaign in Colorado (vote “YES” on Prop 111!) and gotten to see behind the scenes of lobbying communications – how so many different small groups coordinate so effectively to try to fight off the encroachment of greed and big money in our nation’s laws. I can honestly say I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went. But now that I’m in it, I’m excited to see how I’ll be able to use my skills to help push the message forward and gain an even deeper knowledge of how democracy in the U.S. actually works.
Spiritually, I’ve found a home at Pilgrim United Church of Christ and already gotten tied into the young adult group there (we’ll be going camping this weekend!). I came to Durham in the midst of discerning a call to Divinity School, and have been gratified to find a willing adviser and friend in Pastor Lindy, who’s helping me find out what that call means and how I can connect with others who are a little further down the path so I can get even more insight into the possibilities of what lays on the other side of the degree. I also have gotten involved in the sanctuary movement through the church and am looking forward to finding ways to help Pastor Jose Chicas as he fights for his right to stay in the US with his family and congregation.
So far my time in the Johnson Service Corps has brought me more joy and new experience than I could imagine. I look forward to the rest of the year and discovering what else is in store.