Starting my FVM experience during this Covid-19 pandemic has presented many new challenges. Despite living in a world with vaccines, we still take full precautions at the Inn. Protecting our staff and guests is so crucial with the end of the pandemic still so uncertain. Here is a reflection on my experience so far.

It has been well over a year since our lives changed when the Covid-19 pandemic shocked the world. People’s lives were altered drastically as everyone had to learn the new normal. Reflecting on where we are now, it is important to realize hope still remains that we can get through this, especially at St. Francis Inn. We are so blessed to be able to continue our ministry. Guests can come sit down inside and enjoy their meal, enter the job center, and go shopping inside at Marie’s Closet. Every day by taking simple steps we are able to serve our brothers and sisters.

As an FVM, it is so important to me to remain diligent in taking precautions so I can do what I have been called to. Though it is different, I am extremely blessed to interact and get to know guests despite the mask-wearing. I feel as though I have taken for granted little interactions that Covid-19 made so evident. As I like to call it, I can see the smile in guests’ eyes and that really can make a big difference in my day. Knowing that under their mask they are smiling can bring me joy that I never knew was possible. Things like hugging and up-close conversations have adapted into different interactions that make it much safer for everyone. 

Reading people has become a much more difficult task than the pre Covid-19 world. It is a different experience to look just at people’s eyes instead of reading their entire facial expressions. At times, it can feel like an extra burden trying to understand someone’s need with the mask. Though it is just a piece of cloth it can present itself as a barrier, especially those that rely on facial expressions to communicate. Still, I am grateful to navigate how to overcome this challenge because we are still able to be with one another. Here at the Inn, we make it work. We do whatever is necessary to accommodate our guests during this time and continue to support them throughout the pandemic.

Leaving home after college and coming here to serve in person has allowed me to gain perspective in a number of different ways. The most important is that we take so many things for granted like interacting with friends, family, community, etc. when some rarely interact with others that really need someone to be there for them. In hard times like these, it is important we continue to lift up one another by hearing Christ’s call for us to love one another deeply. This means enjoying the little moments and having a heart of gratitude.

Kacey Phillips, Philadelphia FVM ’21-’22