Watson “Watty” Bowes, Jr has supported Johnson Service Corps since its inception in 2000. This month on the blog he shares how he first got involved in the program and why it means so much to him to continue supporting us to this day.
The Johnson Service Corps began as the Johnson Intern Program, which was initially financed by a gift of the late Margaret Johnson, a retired UNC librarian and parishioner at The Chapel of the Cross. Her estate was left to the church and a portion of it was used to launch the Johnson Intern Program in 2000. I was introduced to the program when I volunteered to mentor one of the members of the first group of “interns” to enter the program. These members lived together in what was called “The Pink House” in Carrboro. I was assigned to work with Annmarie McCaig. We met weekly for morning coffee and conversation in locations selected by Annmarie, who was a Chapel Hill native, so in our association and warm friendship I learned much more from her than she learned from me. Now, these many years later, Annmarie (Todd) and her husband are raising five children.
Years later, I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors. One of the many blessings of being on the Board was that it provided me the opportunity of knowing and working with Susan Gladin, the Program Director at the time. She developed the servant leadership curriculum still used in the program, which she and other guest faculty taught. This is a rich program of a Christian-based approach to leadership that prepared the corps members for their respective professional lives after leaving the program.
I have enjoyed staying in touch with the JSC, especially reading the periodic newsletters that contain the reflections of current corps members and of selected alumni. These essays offer impressive accounts of what Johnson Service Corps has meant to a host of corps members, past and present. Their remarks have made me aware that there are two main challenges faced by corps members. One is the challenge and opportunity to learn from the work at their respective community service placements. But perhaps more important is the challenge of living day-to-day with the member of each of the community households, sharing chores and decisions of daily living together. These offer invaluable lessons for living a productive, meaningful Christian life.