Sunday, November 27, 2011

Finally, a new post!

Sorry for all the delay! I've been up to a lot of great things at RITI, though!

I got to visit home for an early Thanksgiving! It was the perfect break, and I'm really glad I got to spend some time at home with my family, friends, and with the congregation of Forest Hills Pres.  I also go to work on Thanksgiving day, which turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would. I worked for half the day, and it was definitely worth it. Holidays can be hard on people with no home and being there for them was a lot more of a gift than I ever thought it would be.

Life as a YAV has been great. I have a "host family" at my church, and they are really great. John McClure is a very passionate musician, and every time we get together, it seems we end up geeking out over bands and musicians and musical theory.

Next week I'll be playing in the "Second Stages" talent show at Second Pres. here in Nashville. I've also been practicing with the band at Presbyterian Student Fellowship at Vanderbilt. I've loved playing as much as I can and sharing my gift with all the people I come upon here in Nashville. It's been a great year so far, and I'm really excited about this holiday season!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall is here!

Finally! The cold weather is setting in and it's really beautiful here in Nashville. It's been perfect, and all I've needed is a light jacket to help me enjoy all of these bright and sunny days.

The down side to this cold, is how busy RITI is becoming. It's been packed, and it's very obvious that the population is starting to grow day by day. I'm looking forward to less down time, but with all of the stories I've heard about the winter, I'm sure I'll be quick to changing my mind.

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to go to three of Nashville's more famous venues. Friday night, I went with a few roommates to the Bridgestone Arena. Although the music was only slightly impressive, the sheer volume and sound was enough to entertain anybody. Saturday night was karaoke night, and I joined three other roommates in singing "Don't Stop Believing" on stage at Lonnie's, in printers alley. But I must say that Sunday night was the best of all. Kyle, Allison, her friend Ginny who was in town, and I all headed to the famous Bluebird cafe. Scoping out seats an hour in advanced was more of a challenge than I thought it would be, but was well worth it. We saw a small blues group called the Brian Ashley Jones trio. It was by far in my top five of best concerts I had ever been to! And what made it even better, was that it was free!

So, all in all, I'm really enjoying Nashville. I've got a lot of work ahead of me, but I can tell that there will be so much fun in between all of it. I really miss North Carolina, but it's hard to be caught up in my homesickness with all the great things there are to do here in Nashville, TN.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Whew! I've been so busy these past few weeks. Room in the Inn really has me working hard. So far I can't complain, because I've been falling in love with Nashville and with my job more and more as the time flies by.  I played my first few rounds of chest (won 2 out of 3!), I got a bonsai tree, and I've been really looking forward to getting more involved in Second Pres.

I've started to build relationships with many of the participants at RITI. I've learned people's names, and I seem to be getting a great deal of respect from those I help daily. I've loved being on a first name basis- and even more so, being friends- with the people that I thought would be so distant when I first arrived. My expectations of hierarchy between participants and staff members have been broken down, and some days I feel that I fit in more with the men and women that attend RITI than the staff members I work with. I've had a hard time learning to tell people no and telling people I can't help. Being stern and authoritative has never been my forte, I'm very much of a pushover. As the month has gone by, this has been my biggest obstacle, and I'm slowly but surely learning that I can't solve everyone's problems.

I got a bonsai tree this past Monday. It's the closest thing I'll have to a pet this year, although it's a lot more tranquil and much easier to house train! It's an eight inch tall ficus tree that I bought at a wonderful little place in town called "Little Tree". I've trimmed it already, and the new leaves are already sprouting beautifully! It's a good project that I can have to work on when I come home from a fast and demanding day of work.

Worship at Second Presbyterian ever Sunday has been absolutely wonderful! I finally have a family I've been paired with (every YAV has a "host family" that they are paired with at the beginning of the year). I'll meet the McClures this Sunday, and I am really looking forward to it. There's been word that a leader for the youth band is needed, and with a little bit of discussion, it seems like this position could be in my future. I don't want to promise anything, but I'd really enjoy the chance, so fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Haven't Posted Lately.

But last week was so interesting! On Tuesday we played bingo. One of the men that won gave me a handshake after he won and was quick to boast that this was his first time ever winning anything for as long as he could remember. On Thursday, I met a man who was going to a comedy club to preform his jokes the next night. I found out there was a guy who used to play guitar with Neil Diamond, and another guy who has written over 5,000 poems. The ones he read to me were amazing.

This week, we had our pictures taken by a professional photographer for a RITI newsletter. I really hope mine gets in. The photographer has worked with Ewan McGregor, Taylor Swift, The Governor of Tennessee, and many other famous people.

There are so many amazing stories to be heard at RITI. Seeing and hearing the reality these people live in is an amazing part of my job. The stories to be told are incredible. Every day I learn the truth behind homelessness and break down the misconceptions that I have.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Week of Work

My first week at Room In The Inn. Where do I even start??? It was certainly an interesting week, and the staff members I work with at the service desk told me I came in during a time that's pretty unique to the rest of the year. On Thursday we served lunch with many less people than we planned on; the church who had volunteered to help us didn't show up. On Tuesday, my first day, I had to clean the bathrooms and learned to do laundry. And Wednesday we had a clean up day, where we close down for the day and focus on cleaning up, re-arranging, and prepping for winter. 

Thursday night was the best part of all. We had our first art show at Room In The Inn! Participants who took art classes (or in some cases just one art class) were allowed to showcase their work. The turn out was huge, and I was fascinated by all the support shown by the staff and the community. Most of the other YAVs showed up as well to see what all is going on at RITI. Four of the pieces where purchased by the Tennessee State Museum! After only three days of working there, I was already able to say how proud I was of all the work that we do, and that I will continue to help with as my year continues.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back From Orientation!

Where do I begin!? I had a great (but long) week at Stony Point Center in New York- about thirty miles from the city. It began with a very long couple of days with seminars on things like cultural competency and sexual misconduct. The weather was beautiful, even the day after hurricane Irene. I met a lot of great Young Adult Volunteers from other parts of America, all traveling to many different parts of the world.

As the week went by, we all began to make friends with each other. One of my friends I met will be going to Hollywood for his year of service. By the end of the week we were so close, I felt like I was supposed to be going with him. It was just as hard saying goodbye to the people I met over the week as it was to say goodbye to my friends back home. It's amazing how close you can get to people over the course of a week.

The best night of my week, if not the best night I've had in the past few months, was the night of the hurricane. My new friends and I decided it would be a good idea to stay up until sunrise. As the night got later, the storm began to build up. During the peak of the raining, a YAV going to Atlanta and I decided to go play in the rain, barefoot. In the forty-five minutes that flew by, we ended up swinging, sliding, and running. The best part of the night was when she and I decided to walk the labyrinth that Stony Point has. It was an amazing experience, and I could feel God's presence in the rain, in the gravel beneath my feet, and in the laughter, smiles, and hugs we exchanged.

Stony Point gave me an amazing week to prepare for the upcoming year. I made great friends that I will never forget, and I miss them a lot already. Some of them I will see in October, but most of them I will have to wait until September of next year to see. Facebook and texting will not suffice, but I'm glad we'll be able to keep in touch as our journeys unfold. It was a great reminder that I will never be in this year alone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nashville, Tennessee!

This has been my second day in Nashville, and I can already tell that I am going to love my new home! It's a big, beautiful city, filled with people and country music everywhere you go. My mom and I spent today exploring the city, trying to get a little bit of the touristy side mixed in with the best local spots. I got to see the Room In The Inn, where I'll be working for the year, and the house I'll be moving into tomorrow. I'm very excited to start this next step in my life, but I have not forgotten about all of those back home whose love and support I know I will continue to have.