Our AmeriCorps members, the ladies who live in Maggie’s Place homes with our moms and babies, are nothing if not resourceful, compassionate, loving and strong. As we are in recruitment season for next year, Natalie, a current Corps member, shares some thoughts for new incoming Corps members. Read along…
Dear New Corps Member:
I know exactly how excited you are for your upcoming year at Maggie’s Place. If you’re like me, you’re ready to live in community with other women, looking forward to endless baby snuggles, and can’t wait to live a lifestyle that aligns closely with your values. This year, you will build beautiful relationships and you will feel loved and inspired every single day. This year will be the most joyful, the most meaningful, and the most rewarding year of your life so far. It might also be the most difficult. You will experience stress, exhaustion, frustration, and worry, sometimes all in the same day. But all of it, every low point, will be worth it.
As a Corps, you commit to knowing and loving the moms in a deep, special way. They are not just clients. They are your roommates and your friends – they will become your sisters. You step into their lives and walk their journeys with them. So when they experience success, you’ll feel overwhelming pride. When they are struggling, you’ll lose sleep worrying about them. When they feel pain, your heart will ache too.
During my year at Maggie’s Place, I watched and lived countless life-changing moments, moments of joy and moments of despair. I celebrated with moms when they found stable employment. I cried happy tears when one mom found out she was eligible to move into an apartment and reunify with her daughter. I helped a mom learn to breastfeed her baby for the first time. I also stayed awake all night in the hospital with a mom experiencing a terrifying psychotic break. I sobbed in the office after finding drugs in a mom’s bedroom. I watched a sweet baby boy take his last breath in my arms after 71 minutes of life. The hard times were really, really hard.
My house went through a particularly difficult season, and we navigated more crises than usual. You probably won’t experience the same kinds of intense lows I did during my year of service. But there will be lows. The hard moments will change the way you see the world. You will understand in a way you never have that the world is full of good and evil and pain and love and injustice and progress all at the same time. These moments will change the way you see yourself, too. You will learn you are strong and resilient and far more capable than you ever imagined yourself to be. You’ll love yourself for the way you’ve loved others, for the way you’ve persisted, for the way you’ve grown. You’ll look to the moms and draw inspiration from them. You’ll think about how much they’ve endured, how much they’ve grown, and how their love for their children keeps them going. You’ll realize that your love for others, especially the moms and babies, is what keeps you going too.
During your time at Maggie’s Place, when you encounter painful moments trust your gut and trust your team. Do what you need to do, and then take some time to breathe and rest. Ask for help if you need it. Maggie’s Place is full of wonderful people who care for you and are ready to support you. Allow yourself to love the moms wholly and authentically, and feel the love they have for you too. It will give you a much-needed sense of peace and comfort. Know that no feeling lasts forever and soon enough a fellow Corps member will offer support or a mom will give you a really good hug or a new baby will come home from the hospital and you’ll think, This is the best year of my life.