I started in JSC in 2003, which amazingly was 16 years ago. I don’t want to think too much about the fact that today’s Corps Members were in preschool when I was going through this experience! Like me, the program has changed a lot in those years:
- The program has a larger group of young adults
- The program added a Durham house
- The curriculum is now based on Servant Leadership
- The program has more, and new, staff
- And a new name!
Despite these significant changes, I venture that there is a lot that is the same about my experience and those of today’s Corps Members. And I know that what I took away from the program is what the program still strives to provide.
Like most of today’s members, I started JSC fresh out of college. I had studied mechanical engineering and spent a summer working on very interesting technical projects at Lockheed Martin. My STEM education and work was rigorous and interesting and ultimately not well aligned with what I felt my life should be about.
I wasn’t at all sure what do to. But I started with what I knew. Jesus said: feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, and clothe the needy. First and foremost, JSC gave me the opportunity to do those things. I worked at the Inter-Faith Council in Chapel Hill. I organized a project to provide Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of families, I gave way food everyday. I facilitated the payment of electric bills and rent when people didn’t have the money they needed to pay these critical bills. I helped many people, every day.
JSC also provided me a framework and space in which to think about this service. Ultimately I came to understand that people are not hungry simply because they lack food. And conversely, giving people food is not all they need to stop being hungry.
The process of community and the space to intentionally reflect on these ideas ultimately set me on the path I am on today. My work today doesn’t directly feed anyone, but it indirectly helps prevent the conditions that Jesus described in Matthew: hunger, thirst, nakedness, being a stranger, being imprisoned. I work on housing policy as a consultant to foundations and local, state and federal government agencies. I collect and analyze data about programs working to solve systemic problems – how to keep families facing a housing crisis safe and stably housed; how to ensure under-served markets have access to responsible mortgages; how to help financial educators and coaches work effectively with struggling families.
I am so grateful for my experience in JSC. This special program helped me discover how I could employ my time and talents in service of others. Like the other young people blessed to part of this program, I was reshaped during my time in the program.