This week hear from Gordon Wong ’11 who sends his greetings from the Windy City!
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Truthfully, I miss Holy Cross very much and there are many days where I find myself thinking back on probably the four best years of my life. However, there is one thing I do not miss about Holy Cross – the hills! Chicago has absolutely no hills! I’m not complaining.
I’m in Chicago this year because I’ve decided to dedicate my first year out of Holy Cross serving as a volunteer with Amate House.
Many people have asked me why I decided to dedicate a year of service. I always knew that I was going to participate in a year of service, and more importantly in a faith-based service program. Participating in this year of service was just one way for me to continue the mission of Holy Cross.
To apply my knowledge I wanted to serve and I wanted to serve in Chicago. There is no city like it and I am just as much in love with Chicago as I was with Holy Cross when I first arrived there for a tour. Chicago has become my new campus and I don’t want to waste a moment here.
Amate House is the young adult volunteer program for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. It is similar to other post-graduate volunteer programs such as Jesuit Volunteer Corps, JVC-Northwest, and AmeriCorps. For 28 years now, Amate House has provided opportunities for over 30 young adults to serve throughout Chicago, while living together in a community of peers, and participating in educational opportunities and faith formation. These volunteers seek to form mutual relationships with our neighbors – to work with and for people in some of the city’s most under-resourced communities. (For more information I invite you to visit http://www.amatehouse.org/).
I am a community organizer with Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Tenant Leadership department. MHL is a nationwide housing organization and I work with supportive housing tenants. My service is in the form of building relationships and a listening ear as they discuss issues in the community. As an organizer my job is to empower the tenants in MHL, to take ownership of an issue, and to take action.
I wish I could tell you what our campaign is going to be about but I can’t—not yet. Organizing takes time and the efforts of the tenants and me are just starting to surface. It’s only a matter of a few weeks till we unveil our campaign.
I love my job. It’s a humble position I have and it’s not a job where I can measure success quantitatively; the success comes in the forms of relationships and in seeing a tenant grow as their leader.
I’ll end my post with one of my favorite phrases from Fr. McFarland. He says that Holy Cross is here to help students meet there “tremendous potential.” Holy Cross started that for me. I believe that the work I’m doing here in Chicago and with the tenants of MHL is to do what Fr. McFarland says. I believe that the tenants I work with have tremendous potential to enact change in their communities and I’m just lucky enough to be able to be there with them.
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