My first days as an FVM at the St. Francis Inn are a blur. There was some nervousness, self-consciousness,  and a little homesickness. These are the earmarks of an enormous life change. Somehow, though, all those feelings disappeared in the whirl of learning how to do 100 new tasks; meeting a multitude of new people; and getting to know my coworkers, who quickly became my second family. I quickly learned how to drive the enormous van to pick up daily donations of bread and various other baked goods. I now have the satisfaction of knowing I have, on many occasions, helped prepare a meal for over 400 people. I have had the opportunity to truly minister to people. I have listened to people who had no one else to talk to, rejoiced at victories large and small, and laughed until I was weak. These are experiences you don’t have at just any job. I’m not sure how the skills I have learned this year will translate into another job – how many jobs does a girl get where she needs to know how to make massive amounts of soup? I did, however, learn important lessons about dealing with people and managing a hungry crowd. I have seen what poverty and addiction can look like. These are the types of experiences that truly shape a person. My views of the world have been changed and shaped by what I have seen here, and I know I will never forget anything I have learned.

Emily Michaelson Andrea, FVM Philadelphia 2007-2008