This year we were blessed with two exceptional interns from FSU’s MSW program: Tyler and Rachel. Rachel’s internship ends this week but her involvement with our community endures. Rachel connected with our community right from the start.
Here’s Rachel in her own words:
Working at Joseph House this semester was such an amazing experience. I have witnessed so much joy and so much resilience with the men I have had the opportunity to know during my time here.
The primary expression that comes to mind is gratitude. I am so grateful to have known these men, who have given me so much insight into the impact incarceration can have on an individual. I am grateful to have witnessed that, despite the dehumanization that incarceration brings, that people can and do overcome it. I am grateful to our community, without whom much of the “accompaniment” work at Joseph House would be impossible. I am grateful to everyone who has had a hand in my learning experience (especially Father Dustin for trusting me to handle things!) I carry so much gratitude for the residents and the volunteers of this community in my heart.
Before Joseph House, I’ve never spoken to a person who said that they hadn’t had a peaceful night of sleep in 27 years due to noise. I have never been truly alone before, and I have talked with individuals who have an average of five years that were spent alone in a cell where they were not allowed to speak to anyone. I have met with men who have served time for things they may or may not have done, but the punishment is still “not resolved” so they continue to be supervised and monitored like second-class citizens.
Society at large sends them a message that they can’t be trusted, and shouldn’t be. This message can plunge the people who hear it into a sense of hopelessness. But Joseph House shifts the narrative, letting residents know that they are worthy of care and healing. Joseph House lets them know that the traumas they experience are valid, and their past shouldn’t define them. It seems like a no-brainer (especially if you are a part of a faith community) that being judged by the worst thing we do should not be a facet of judgement in our society, but it is. It’s been amazing to witness how we can implement change into that narrative, even with a small number of residents.
Joseph House feels like a family, and while that sentiment is expressed often, I don’t believe it is expressed lightly. We celebrate successes together, and we mourn losses together. We come together to share meals, and we discuss things together that are important to us. Community is so important to the success of all of us, and I love that Joseph House is a place of community for everyone involved, not just the residents.
Of course, while I’m transitioning into a new job, I still intend to remain a part of this community. I will be continuing to volunteer at Joseph House, so you’ll see me around!