Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) members Julia Kohler and Rachel Larson spent the last year volunteering at Health Care for the Homeless as part of our Engagement and Communications Departments respectively. As they wrap up their time in Baltimore, including five months teleworking from the LVC house in Hampden, we asked them to reflect on the service year.
You’re both from Minnesota. Why did you choose to volunteer in Maryland?
Rachel: The mission of Health Care for the Homeless was unlike anything I heard before. And I connected with the way it was talked about – walking alongside people, uplifting people’s stories, seeking an end to the root cause of an injustice.
Julia: I wanted to go somewhere outside my Midwestern bubble. Health Care for the Homeless spoke to me the most because of the many hats it wears; direct service, advocacy, policy, community leadership. Next thing I knew I was getting ready to move to Baltimore.
What have you learned from this volunteer year?
Rachel: So much. I’ve learned how to learn, how to process and continue through action. I’ve learned how interconnected justice is.
Julia: Learning and un-learning is never done. We can't forget to look at ourselves in the mirror and confront the ways we are contributing to and benefitting from the very systems we're trying to dismantle.
Any favorite moments?
Rachel: The Community Convening blended my undergrad work in dialogue and deliberation with Health Care for the Homeless. Being part of the day and the following All-Staff was amazing – with the bonus of seeing Eva Hendrix as Belle, my favorite princess, for Halloween!
Julia: I loved All-Staff Meetings in the lobby. They were such a clear celebration where we got to see staff from across the agency at the same time. Sitting in on a meeting at Lobby Day and watching Health Care for the Homeless staff and clients speak truth to legislators was a favorite, too.
It’s been a challenging and, in many ways, unprecedented year for all of us. What has given you hope and helped you navigate these last five months in particular?
Rachel: One of the values of Lutheran Volunteer Corps is intentional community. That community and resilience gave me hope.
Julia: I am still figuring it out. Team meetings and check-ins were the best. Playing board games at home with my roommates. Remembering the power of community, even virtually. Knowing that I can still be angry, depressed and anxious while still having hope for better days.
What’s next for you?
Rachel: Classes at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota to earn a Masters of Divinity! But first, getting home so I can pet my dog and hug my family (after two weeks of quarantining!)
Julia: I am applying for jobs in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. In the meantime, I am excited to write, garden and reflect on how lucky I was to spend a year in Baltimore.