When I hear the words “My Neighbor,” the first things I think of are the kids next door who cry in the morning, the man who used to live across the street from me who hated loud noises, and the sweet old southern lady named Dot who I have been blessed to call my neighbor this year. “My Neighbor” is additionally the name of one of the ministry sites I have been working with in Durham. With the mission to recognize and connect with those living on the streets and those experiencing food insecurity, My Neighbor is a community of diverse people with different backgrounds, all of whom are neighbors to one another. The vehicle through which this community is formed is food. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, volunteers gather in the kitchen to prepare breakfast, and by 8:00 volunteers and guests are praying together to prepare to share a meal. This experience has deconstructed many of my own notions about service. My Neighbor ministry is not about providing pastoral care or some sort of social work. It is simply about being a good neighbor, being present with those around you, and accepting them as they are.

The concept and practice of service through building community with your neighbors has caused me to reflect on what kind of neighbor I am, and who has been a good neighbor in my life. My neighbor and friend, Dot, the sweet, old, southern lady across the street, is one of the best neighbors I have ever had. Although not affiliated with FVM, Dot has made an immense impact on my service year. Not only is she constantly bringing boxes of cans and fresh produce to our door, but she calls me often to check on me, she ensures we are prepared and safe before a storm, and she lets me know that she loves me whenever we see each other. Dot has shown me what it means to love your neighbor unconditionally, to look out for your community, and to give the gift of oneself to those around you. She is the type of neighbor I will strive to be for the rest of my life.

Brooke, Durham FVM ’21-’22