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Serving Christ Through Action for Better Community

Alumni

Caroline Gonia: 2008-2009
CarolineCaroline spent a year in USC, living in the Ogden house and working at Girls, Incorporated of Metro Denver. While she had been abroad quite a few times and experienced being the minority in other countries, living in the city near my house and witnessing the struggle with poverty, drugs, lack of healthy food, Caroline discovered that all the stresses of living in the city were far more challenging than travelling to another country. She is so grateful she had a community, a shared vision, dance parties in the kitchen, and wonderful people with whom to experience it!

After USC, Caroline continued her service by participating in three more months of volunteer work, cutting trees and clearing trails with Mile High Youth Corps; she then worked at Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp for a while. After a few difficult jobs, she stumbled upon wilderness medicine and went on to do be an EMT. She hopes to start working on an ambulance soon! Caroline shares, "It is a work in grace and humility to treat every patient with compassion and patience, from the irritated drug user whose companion called at 2 am, to the two week old baby who keeps choking. I can't say I go to church much these days, but I see such brokenness and healing, such community and grace in what I do every day."

Finally, as Caroline reflects on her year of service at Urban Servant Corps she offers, "Several things I've realized, three years out from USC: everyone needs a community of some kind; I really do have a vocation and a "calling," and I stumbled upon it by accident; spending time with yourself and becoming grounded in that divine center is imperative for cultivating strength, compassion, and good humor; you can eat well and cheaply; staying close to home is sometimes more challenging that travelling far away; very little can beat coffee with a good friend or a hike in the mountains."

Scott Glaser, USC volunteer from 1995-1996, shares his experience:Scott
"When I came out to Denver during my college internship, I knew that it was a community I wanted to be a part of again someday. After kicking around in a small town in Minnesota for a while after graduation, I knew I had to take a leap of faith and return to Denver. I wanted to get integrally involved in the community, learn what makes it tick and make a difference in the lives of people. Bonita Bock, the Director of the Urban Servant Corps at the time and who once was my professor, shared with me that the intentional community of the Urban Servant Corps was a very intimate way to become active in the city. I started my year of service in 1995 and was placed at Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver.

This new chapter in my life coincided with a new chapter in the life of the Urban Servant Corps as well. In the years leading up to this year, the Director and her family lived in the Ogden House along with the volunteers and were a much more intimate part of the community. My year was the first year that the Director did not live in the house with the volunteers, thus beginning the cramming of ten volunteers into the Ogden House and changing the dynamic of volunteer community at the Urban Servant Corps forever. We were the trial run for this model and for better or worse discovered things as a community that eventually evolved into the more formalized structure that exists today. We loused up a lot of things in the process, but I think we all as individuals and as an organization emerged stronger for the experience.

The process of making mistakes in community and being forced into resolving conflicts may have been the biggest lessons I learned from my year of service. These lessons and my passion for serving in the community led me into my first career move as a District Executive with the Boy Scouts of America. After many years of service to that organization and to the Denver community I had the chance to apply the lessons I learned into a "smaller community" when I married my wife, Amy, in 2010 and moved to the more rural community of Greeley, CO. It turns out some of the lessons I learned about community applied to married life - be open in communication, respect your housemates, share your stuff and your thoughts, appreciate everyone's gifts and respect everyone's beliefs. The lessons also apply in my new work community as I continue in non-profit with United Way of Weld County. And finally, the lessons apply to my now living in a more rural and demographically different community than what I was used to in Denver. Ironic - I started in Denver as an "outsider from a small community who doesn't understand the city" and am now the "outsider from that big city who doesn't understand the needs of the small town." Good thing I've had some experience with integrating into a new community: Urban Servant Corps - the lessons that last a lifetime."