MissionCorps like to tell whoever will listen that Maggie’s Place is like a family. The Corps and moms live, grow, suffer, and rejoice together. They are there for every up and down in life. Sometimes, they know more about each other’s current lives than their parents, siblings, or friends. They celebrate birthdays, sobriety anniversaries, births, and pretty much any occasion that can be rejoiced in with dessert, decorations, and plenty of laughs.

At Maggie’s Place, the moms grow deep, meaningful friendships with other moms that far outlast their stay in the home. Even after they move out, Maggie’s Place moms consistently return for services, events, and community. Alumnae moms meet and interact with current moms at holiday parties, programs at Fiat, and the ever-loved Fit Moms series. They return to the homes with their growing children to take pictures in front of their leaf. When they move into one of the homes, each woman becomes a part of a family that lasts far longer than their time there.

But this Maggie’s Place family is not just for the moms. Living and working together, MissionCorps support each other in a unique way. Fellow MissionCorps are there for every joy and every heartbreak. They are the ones who will sit with you for hours as you discuss life, school, relationships, and everything in between. During my time as a MissionCorps, I met staff, counselors, volunteers, and donors who were alumnae Corps. These women continue to serve and love their ever-growing family. You hear stories about former Corps members whose contact babies were ring bearers or flower girls in their wedding, who met their future spouse at Serve Saturday, or who became roommates with former coworkers. These women became just as much a part of the Maggie’s Place family as the moms who Maggie’s Place serves.

I recently returned to The Elizabeth House for the first time since ending my stay as a MissionCorps. I had been living abroad since leaving Maggie’s Place so I didn’t know what to expect. As I walked through the door for their yearly Superbowl party, I was welcomed by dozens of hugs and a chorus of “Welcome home!” I spent the evening holding babies, catching up with moms and Corps, and dancing to halftime show songs. A party I expected to stay at for 30 minutes turned into 3 hours of reconnecting and reminiscing.

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Since that evening, I have returned to the home for volunteer duty shifts and candlelights (farewell ceremonies for moms and Corps). I have met and welcomed new moms and babies. I’ve seen moms I lived with off as they left for new homes. I have been invited by alumnae moms and Corps to birthday parties and celebrations. These women have invited me into their lives and, without my noticing, became my friends.

I originally accepted a MissionCorps position because it fit perfectly into my open timeslot between graduation and leaving to teach English abroad. I wanted to work with nonprofits and I figured Maggie’s Place would give me experience working with homeless populations. As an added bonus, my food and housing would be provided for and I would have access to a car. Needless to say, my time at Maggie’s Place did meet these meager expectations.

In addition, I got experience in volunteer management, developed relationships I could (and have) used as references, and learned how to check fluid levels in a car. But I also developed a passion for social work. I learned that the statistics and stories I heard in class and on the news were more than stories and were happening to real people. At Maggie’s Place, I learned what suffering and empathy meant. I understood community on a new level and saw just how necessary it is for a healthy life. And I became a part of a family that I expect to be a part of my life for years to come.

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