July 18th will be my 2-year anniversary at Maggie’s Place.  I’ve lived and served all this time at The Michael House as a live-in volunteer, or MissionCorps member. I have a full and demanding schedule, and it’s no joke living where you work, but despite the challenges, I can’t imagine a better way to have spent the last 2 years. As I look forward to my third year as a MissionCorps member, I can’t help looking back at all the people, experiences, and surprises the last two years have thrown my way.

I have lived and served with over 40 MissionCorps over the past two years, who have all taught me something different and something valuable, and who have become dear friends.  The homes are spread out across the valley (and the country!), but as Corps members, we live in a very close community – the “Maggie’s Place bubble”.  We live and work together in the same place, which can often be a challenge but more often is a huge blessing. While we navigate different personalities and gifts, we learn how we complement each other.  We celebrate the good times, cry on each other’s shoulders, do hard things, and love a lot.  More than anything, we are present to each other in ways that we might not even fully realize, and we help each other to learn and grow in ways we never thought possible. This community is concentrated and intense and yet ever expanding and welcoming to new members. It’s a community that you are a part of for life.

I have lived with and loved 45 moms and babies, not counting moms from other homes and alumnae moms I’ve met along the way. I’ve walked by their sides through heartbreaking miscarriages, through the state removing their children from their care, through the joy and pain of childbirth, and the joys and pain of parenting. I’ve witnessed miracles and prayed harder than ever before for these women, some of whom I barely knew at the time. I have been yelled at, hugged, ignored, and loved by the moms; I’ve had moms thank me for holding them accountable to their goals and to expectations of behavior, and I’ve had moms run away for the same reason.  I’ve been called a sister, mother, grandmother (really), and friend (especially when visiting moms in the hospital!). I have held their hands in labor, walked them through the nuances of budgeting for the first time, taught them how to cook a meal, and even taught one mom how to clean a bathroom.  The biggest thing? I’ve seen them give and receive love to the point of heartache, to the point of side-splitting laughter, to the point of falling on their knees in the chapel because they have nowhere else to turn.

I’ve also met countless volunteers who have busy lives of their own and who still find time to be at the house and serve the moms in whatever way they can. These loving people are often the constants in our homes that know so many mom and Corps transitions throughout the year.  Some of them have been volunteering for years and love this community with their whole hearts. They provide House Coverage, which means they take duty shifts for the Corps and spend time at the house getting to know the moms. They cook us meals, do chores and yard work, fix things around the house, babysit, tutor the moms, and countless other things.  They share their lives with us and teach us how to love all over again.

This community is a special one. Most of my friends from college don’t really know how to relate when I tell them what I do here, and that’s okay.  Maggie’s Place is a time of growth and change and, most of all, love.  It’s a concentrated little part of the world that knows great suffering and great joy. Not everyone is ready for that.  But if you ever have the chance to take part in the community, in whatever way, I encourage you to take the leap. You won’t regret it.

By Lucy Miller, a MissionCorps member