A Day in my Awesome and Inviable Life

By: Phyllis Kyei Mensah

This year has taught me so many values, skills and experiences that I would not have had anywhere else. The most important lesson I have learned so far is to not underestimate the impact of even the most minute of injustices on individuals and their families.

As a VVC, I split my weekdays between the Liz Carter and Winton Terrace Outreach Centers. On a typical Bank Street day, my tasks include enhancing the company’s image on social media and our website through promotional materials, working on print and communication materials for our events and drives, and soliciting donations for our events. Besides the new digital and design skills that this position has taught me, I have also grown to appreciate the diversity of my day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, which give me something excited to look forward to.

On a ‘Winton Terrace’ day, you might find me waiting (quite impatiently) at the bus stop to catch the Cincinnati Metro Bus to the office. I find it both interesting and humbling to share this important ritual with people I neither know nor have any relationship with. This ritual invokes an unspoken bond between me and my neighbors who ride the bus and, through this bond, there is a refreshing and familial feeling of knowing where people get on and get off. A bond which gets me thinking about what’s going on in people’s lives when they don’t show up as they usually do at their regular bus stops, and what part of their lives are distracted and affected when the bus is late or never shows up.

A day at Winton Terrace is usually fun and full of activity. I usually get my weekly workouts going up and down those steep stairs. At this placement, I have had the opportunity get to know our neighbors better. What makes my day is when someone says “thank you so much, I really appreciate your help” after I have helped print and fax both legal and social service documents, school assignments, resumes, or helped fill out job applications or create new resumes for job interviews, or referred someone on the phone to the appropriate agency or contact person to get the help they need. I have also had the pleasure of seeing people move ahead on the social ladder – from being jobless, to having a job and a regular paycheck; from feeling too old to learn, to being regular students of our computer and GED classes; and from being hopeless and frustrated, to being happy and hopeful for the future. These tasks are very important to me because I am a firm believer of addressing poverty not only with handouts, but also structural and systemic long-term solutions.

VVC life outside the office has also been a personal journey of growth and adventure. I have had to try my hands on so many things I never used to do (well, board games are the exception because I just can’t wrap my head around them). I have evolved from being someone whose only workouts had just been frequent ‘walks in the Lord’, to a regular morning jogger. I could swim like a stone before VVC, but now, I can stay afloat for about 5 seconds with Jack’s expert help (Hey! That is a great achievement by my standards 😊). You might also find me practicing for the driver’s license test, which I’m not even planning get anytime soon (but hey, I can’t pass on another opportunity to bother other VVCs). Pulling out weeds from the VVC garden is also another ritual you might find me doing when I want to feel like the ‘TRUE’ organic farmer that I am😊. Habitually, however, you will find me reading some form of literature either on the back porch or in my room.

Phyllis

Phyllis Kyei Mensah is originally from Sunyani, Ghana. She has Master’s degrees in Political Science and African Studies from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and Oxford, UK respectively. Although short in stature, Phyllis makes up for it with her bold and sassy personality. She has a deep faith, loves all things intellectual, and has instilled a love of fried plantains in many of her community members during her time in VVC. Many times, you can find her around the house singing or humming gospel tunes.

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A Day in the Life of Miss Carmen, the Fantastic

By: Carmen López Agredano

I remember that when I applied to be a VVC one of my main concerns was if in my job position I would be busy and if I would have responsibilities or I was going to become the girl that brings coffee.

Well, there is no one here who brings coffee – the work that I’m doing here keeps me so busy that there is no time for that. The reality is that I’m pretty busy.

Monday and Thursday mornings I do walk-ins which are some of the greatest moments of the week because gives me the opportunity to encounter our neighbors. It is a neat moment because you work with the people one on one, and at the end of the walk-ins I feel so much lighter and blessed.

Some Wednesday I do home visits for our Latino community. I’m the link between SVDP and our Spanish speaking clients. Also, because I am a native speaker I help at the pharmacy with translations, making posters with information for clients who suffer from diabetes… It’s amazing how quickly you start creating relationships!

Fridays afternoon I am at the Pantry doing intakes, it’s a great way to end the week!

The rest of my time I’m at my desk being a Conference Support. You might ask what is a Conference? Well… a Conference is a parish-based of volunteers who act as the Outreach Center but in a particular area.

I make sure that the Conferences have everything they need, help them with resources, and be the link with the Outreach Center! I review and approve the Homeless Prevention Program, a program to help our neighbors in the different Conferences to avoid homelessness by assisting them with rent or utility payments.

During this year, my professional skills have grown in a way that I couldn’t imagine!

Not only have I grown in a professional way, I have grown personally: it has been an amazing transformation. Living in community has been key in that transformation, sharing my faith journey, having conversations that matter, watching movies, going out for a walk…  Being from another country and living with people from the USA and other countries has enriched me so much! I’m always willing to celebrate some American holiday or to try some dish from Kenya!

You transform every single day; there is no day that I’ve been not learning something!

 

file-3Carmen López Agredano is originally from Algeciras, Spain. She has an artist’s heart, and sees the beauty in everyday life. When she is not trying to convince the rest of the VVC community about the supremacy of cats, she is doing something thoughtful for someone else, bringing the community together, or going on adventures.