It’s been 4 months since I last blogged! How does the time fly by?? My spring and summer in Asheville has been extremely busy. I apologize for those of you who have been waiting to hear an update. Blogging is always on my to-do list but all to often is pushed down to the bottom week after week.
There are so many updates to give!
In the end of April 6 Southeast YAV sites (Asheville, Nashville, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, and Little Rock) came together to retreat on the Gulf Shores of Alabama. It was an amazing time to hang out and relax with other YAVs. The seven of us, including my Site Supervisor, drove 9 hours in a minivan down on a Thursday and came back Sunday. Some serious bonding happened in that car ride…lots of together time
This spring has been pretty steady at Habitat. We’ve had groups come for week long volunteer builds from all over the country! Starting this spring, Asheville Habitat began construction in a new location in South Asheville called Shiloh. While finishing out the 25 home subdivision in West Asheville, our Construction Staff has split as we moved just a few minutes south of our Administrative offices to start the beginning of three new worksite locations! Caribou Corner, a stand alone infill lot, is the name of the first house we started in this wave of development in Shiloh. Shortly after Caribou Corner broke ground, we started a 5 home mini sub-division called Creekside. In no time at all we will start building in our third construction site in Shiloh called McKinley, a 10 home sub-division. Asheville Habitat starts building a new house every 26 days so we typically have 4-6 homes undergoing construction, all at different stages, at the same time. Talk about planning! It’s great from a volunteer coordination perspective because we can accommodate all levels of volunteer comfort and skill.
In the beginning of July, us Asheville YAVs attended the Wild Goose Festival as our last retreat of the year. Wild Goose is a spiritual and music festival held in Hot Springs, NC (30 minutes away from Asheville). The six of us camped with Selena, our Site Coordinator, as did 3,000 other festival attendees. There were so many people in one camp ground. All-day Friday and Saturday there were numerous lectures you could attend, as well as music performances, and social gatherings that brought people from all over together. The focus of this festival is to bring together individuals who either already engage in social justice work currently or are seeking ways to become more engaged. I attended a variety of discussions from learning about the churches involvement in Mass Incarceration, to Wisdom from the Cistercians for Daily Life, participating in a mid-day Earth-focused Liturgy, and sitting in on a panel on the strengths and struggles of Intersectionality in the Black Church. And to cap it all of, the Indigo Girls headlined on Saturday night!
Situated right on the Big Laurel River, you could cool down in the river, attend Beer & Hymns (put on by the Episcopal Tent), and bring out your camping chair for the evening’s music. Despite my lack of sleep for 4 days, lots of humidity, and the addition of a few new bug bites, I really enjoyed the chance to talk with and “do church” with so many like minded, progressive Christians. I was able to attend a few sessions held by Matthew Fox, a prominent spiritual theologian. I read a lot of Fox while researching my Senior Independent Study at Wooster. It was incredible to hear him speak in person! During his Earth Liturgy, I went up to him and did a combo version of the “Passing of the Peace” and “Namaste” with him!! Definitely freaked out
Since the start of May, I have been in the awful, soul defeating job-hunting phase of my year. I knew that this search was coming and have been despising it every day, but, being the planned and organized person that I am, I knew that I needed to start ASAP to have something set up for life post July 31. And OMG is Asheville is a tough market. I’m not joking! I applied to two AmeriCorps positions and a variety of other jobs. I would either simply not hear back from an Employer or hear a confirmed “no.” It definitely can start to wear on you.
My employment journey has come to an end! I am happy to announce that my time doing service work has not finished! The other week I was offered an AmeriCorps position at Asheville Habitat and accepted! I am ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to continue working with the affiliate that I have come to know and love. I will be working as a Construction Crew Leader with New Home Construction to build 15 new homes in the next fiscal year along with our Construction Manager, 3 Construction Supervisors, 80 CORE volunteers, and close to 2,000 additional volunteers. It will be an incredible experience to take the knowledge I have gained this year working in the office for Construction Services and build on it with the skills I will acquire on the jobsite. When I found out the news, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t imagine saying goodbye to this organization and luckily I won’t have to! For another year…
This is my last week as a YAV, living in a 3 bedroom/ 2 bath/ 1,300 sq.ft house with 5 other girls, making $300 a month (minus rent), and having Selena as our Sensei for all of the hardships that doing a YAV year involves. Despite feeling like I’m living on top of everyone, there is no doubt that I am going to miss this community that the 6 of us have created for the past 11 months. I’m looking forward to having my own room, deciding what I (and only I) want to eat each week, and making way more of a paycheck than I ever made this year. But how often do you get to “do life” with 5 other girls and experience all of this together? That’s the one beauty to intentional community, being able to really connect with people when they are at their best and worst. Even though three of the six of us are moving out of Asheville for either school or internships, we will always have a friendship that will be there for the rest of our lives. And I’m so excited to see what that friendship brings as we all move away from our identities as YAVs.
Thank you for those who have continued to support me through this year! I will forever be grateful for your financial contributions and prayers that you have given to make this volunteer year possible.