My name is Debbie Wuliger, and I have happily been a mentor with the JSC for three years. It all began at a Christmas function hosted by one of the board members, Day Pritchartt, in her home. This is where I got a chance to meet some of the mentors and the young adults in the 2019 program. The camaraderie struck me that the corp members had among themselves and the connections they were making in the community during their year-long volunteer placement in a Durham or Chapel Hill non-profit organization.
I have collected many memories with my mentees over the past three years. My first mentee was Austin Mueller, and we discovered that we shared a love of cooking good food and bringing people together around a dinner table. So began Austin and Debbie’s Gourmet Foray. Each month we would decide what the menu would be, I would buy the ingredients, and then we would spend an evening in my kitchen cooking an amazing meal. Eventually, we invited others to share our feasts, good conversation, and much laughter.
Sara Richard, my next mentee, her friend Emlyn, my husband Joel, and I did a Crop Walk to raise money to fight hunger along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were in the middle of the COVID shutdown, so we were encouraged to walk in small groups anywhere we would like. We like the Appalachian Mountains, so uphill and over dale we went. We ended our walk with a picnic by a river.
I am having fun laughing and sharing with Macie Bridge over brunch once a month this year. She is a writer, and I am a painter, and we both had worked through the book, The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. So we decided that we wanted to work through it once again together. This has prompted rich conversation and deep sharing that moves each of us along our artistic paths.
It is through JSC that I learned about Servant Leadership. I love the idea that JSC is teaching our future leaders a management style where the focus is on serving their communities and that a gifted leader puts the growth and well-being of their employees before their own. These leaders create a work environment where all people feel respected, appreciated, and valued. I enjoy supporting this kind of thinking and acting.