Extended Member Introduction: Shelby

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Hello all!
My name is Shelby Mancell, and I am from Oklahoma! I took a two day drive to be here in beautiful Pennsylvania. I have been really enjoying my time here in Harrisburg. It has been very different from living back at home in a small town versus here in a big city, but I have come to enjoy the differences. One being there is better public transportation here than at home.

The workplace that I am at for this year is CONTACT Helpline! I am working as a Housing Specialist. This means that the population that I work with is the homeless or near homeless. I am taking phone calls, doing in-takes, and give referrals if I can. It can be difficult at times, but I do enjoy the work that I am doing. The people that I work with are nice, let me ask questions when I am not sure about something, and make me feel like I am part of the team. I am learning a lot of skills that I know I can take with me into my future career.

Besides liking my job and how excited I am to help people, there are other things I enjoy. My favorite shows to watch after a long day at work is Psych or NCIS. Movies are something I like to watch after work as well. I have no one movie that is my favorite, but I can say that I dislike horror movies (nope I will not watch one even if you tried to pay me). I also enjoy reading a good book. I am not too picky with genres I just love a good story, or great ideas. Some of my favorite books from my childhood are Black Beauty and North of Beautiful. Along with a show, movie, or book a have a hot drink. My favorite hot drinks are tea (herbal ones at night, and Earl Grey or Chai in morning), coffee, and hot chocolate.

So there it is! A little look into where I am from, what I am doing here, and some of my favorite things! Nice to meet you!

Extended Member Introduction: Emily

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Hi All,

My name is Emily Schmid and I am originally from Sterling, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC. Traffic is terrible down there. When I was working with the Smithsonian Associates it took me an hour and forty five minutes, a car, a bus, and the metro to get to work. Needless to say, I am much happier to be able to drive 15 minutes to get to the United Church Center.

I am really enjoying my placement with the Pennsylvania Council of Churches so far. I get to apply my interdisciplinary arts administration degree by creating programming that will help people understand the issue of solitary confinement in PA’s prison system. I have been working with my supervisor to reimagine creative ways in which we can share the stories of people affected by solitary confinement. One aspect of my work which has taken me a bit outside of my comfort zone has been networking and reaching out to individuals who are affected by solitary confinement to see if they would be willing to share their stories. People have given us overwhelmingly positive responses. My hope is that sharing these stories will be as therapeutic for these individuals as it is educational for people of faith. We have our first trial program coming up mid November and then are kicking off programming in earnest starting in the new year. I’m excited to see where things go

As property committee coordinator for the Sycamore house I enjoy working with the committee to fearlessly battle cockroaches, mold, and leaking pipes (the joys of living in an old house!). In all seriousness, I am eternally grateful to Jim and Mike and all the members of the committee for putting up with my emails and working through our concerns. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to learn about all that goes into managing a house without actually having to re-install the drywall myself 😛

You can find me at the 10:15 service at St. Stephen’s or occasionally wandering around the labyrinth in the Bishop’s courtyard on Saturdays. Although it has been slow going, I am working with Amy and Shayna to develop an oral history of St. Stephen’s. I will conduct interviews with various parishioners about their experiences at St. Stephen’s and compile them into an online database to be shared with the congregation. Stay tuned for more details.

One of my favorite things that I have been doing out in the community of Harrisburg has been connecting with a group of individuals who all listen to a podcast called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The podcast reads through the Harry Potter books chapter by chapter and applies a different sacred reading practice to each one. We have started a local group where we do the same thing, starting with book one chapter one. We meet every other Sunday afternoon at the Nuclear Bean in Middletown and we’d love for more members to join us! Check out our FB group here for more details: https://www.facebook.com/groups/420589091922792/

In my free time (Although we seldom have any here at Sycamore house) I enjoy cooking, baking, art journaling, painting, reading, writing (poetry, plays, blog posts, journal entries), biking, hiking, painting my nails, watching movies, doing yoga, and napping. Mostly napping.

Finally, to get to know some random facts about me, here are some favorites:

Book: To Kill a Mockingbird

Movie: The Breakfast Club

TV show: New Girl

Podcast: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Play: Every Tongue Confess

Musical Artist: Mumford and Sons

Candy Bar: Twix

Tea: Chai (which I realize just means tea, but authentic Indian Chai with milk is so good)

Tree: Ginko

Animal: Armadillo

Extended Member Introduction: Ian

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Hello, everyone.

My name is Ian Tan, and I come from Kuching (Cat City), Malaysia, SouthEast Asia. Well, if you came here to know me a bit more, what can I say? Here are some facts about myself that I feel are the most key to my identity.

I am ethnically Chinese, and speak Mandarin with my parents and most of my relatives. I haven’t been in touch with my Chinese roots for ages (not speaking or reading the language much). I want to begin sharpening my knowledge of Mandarin, and possibly getting into Chinese literature. I enjoy a diverse literary range, from Romanticism era poetry to modern era poetry, and from classics (e.g The Iliad) to newer works showcasing previously hidden voices (e.g the Song of Achilles). But really, I am pleased to try anything that highlights the flaws of society while celebrating its qualities and the hope of a brighter today.

Being an INFP, I value freedom and mobility in my work and everyday tasks, even if I mess up. Because then I can learn from my mistakes and ask for help on my own terms. Not that I don’t appreciate guidance though, especially if it comes from someone with greater experience. I feel at my peak when the work at hand is some sort of creative, literary project. Another INFP trait is that I tend to make myself an emotional outlet; I want to make everyone feel heard, and during conflicts, I usually try to take the other person’s context into account. This has helped me navigate many difficult occasions and preserve my relationships with others.

I think I can say I love living in the city, especially one as pretty as Harrisburg. Being at the hub of so many businesses, opportunities for nightlife, and festivals has helped me see how lively urban settings can be. It is so much fun walking around remembering new hangout spots, what routes are the most peaceful, and finding new favorite eateries. Future choices of cities to live in are Philadelphia, Washington DC, Rome, or GeorgeTown (small coastal capital of Penang, Malaysia)

Favorite things (in the spirit of Savannah’s format)

Character: Edmund Pevensie

Tea: Classic Chinese Green, the subtle bitterness helps get me into a more alert state

Organizational Strategy: Memorizing tasks, and occasionally to-do lists

Candles: No solid preferences yet.

Season: Midsummer through Fall

Candy Bar: Kit-Kat

Weather: Thunderstorm for sleeping warmly indoors, or a cool sunny day for a pleasant stroll/jog

Singer: Karliene (Youtube singer/musician who creates Celtic, fiction influenced music)

Color: Forest green paired with silver

Dinner: Roasted chicken thighs and steamed jasmine rice

Book: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland or the Chess Machine by Robert Lohr

This year, I am working in two placements – Habitat for Humanity as a grant writer, and St Stephen’s Episcopal School as a staff member in the after-school program. Both are rewarding in different ways. The first allows me to utilize the skills I sharpened in college, like analysing texts and building narratives, while the second gives me the chance to help nurture children. It sounds cheesy, but I appreciate this chance to work with the next generation, because I can see my past selves in a number of the students and I’m aware of how they might feel in certain situations and what they would need. I hope I can walk away from the Service Corps with lessons that can help shape my future journeys in professional writing and handling children.

As for church service, I recently thought it would be good for me to try my hand at joining the Finance Vestry, and so far I have attended one meeting. It was a lot of scouring budget records and keeping track of so many expenses that St Stephen’s had to oversee. That was such uncharted territory, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel out of bounds, but it was time I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned how institutions like the Church run its books. I am thriving in my space amidst my housemates. Yes, I know I am the sole male and person of color here but my housemates are as aware of it as I am, and do their best not to agitate anything about it, which I am so appreciative of. I hope that we can continue to grow and learn around each other.

Extended Member Introduction: Faith

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Hi, everyone!
I’m Faith, and I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee. I graduated in 2018 from Asbury University, where I studied English. I’m very excited to be a part of the Sycamore House.
I am working at the Episcopal Diocese of Central PA as the diocesan events coordinator and assistant to the canon for communications. I develop, oversee, and publicize all events for the diocese. An upcoming event I’m excited about is our Live Nativity on December 13 th at St. Andrews in the Valley. There will be live animals, including a camel! We’re all pretty excited about the camel. I assist with communications by creating, editing, and proofreading social media posts, newsletters, flyers, and other documents. English major skills for the win! I’m really enjoying my work at the diocese and the people I work with. Another great perk of
working for the diocese is hanging out with the cats! The diocese office has two adorable cats, Lilly Grace and Rey. You can follow them on Instagram @episcocat_diocpa to see all of their adventures.

I’m having fun getting involved at St. Stephen’s by singing in the choir. You can catch me every Sunday hitting those soprano notes. I’ll also be singing in the October Music by the River concert on Saturday, October 26th at St. Stephen’s! It’s a 1920’s-themed concert, and it’s going to be a roaring good time, Old Sport. I’ve felt so welcomed by the incredible hospitality of the St. Stephen’s community. I feel like part of the family.

Here are a few of my favorite things (cue Maria in The Sound of Music):
Comedy: Legally Blone. Elle Woods is an inspiration!
Drama: Ordinary People. If you’ve seen and loved this movie, I will be your best friend.
Book: Hard to choose just one, but The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a great one.
TV shows: Parenthood, Call the Midwife, and Breaking Bad. I realize the latter is quite a
contrast from the former two!
Broadway belting songs: “Burn” and “Satisfied” from Hamilton, “ABC Café” and “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, and “Memory” from Cats. Road trips in my car are a one woman show starring me.
Band: Simon and Garfunkel. I mean come on. We got a Queen movie, and I loved it, but where is my Simon and Garfunkel movie??? (The Graduate does not count).

I’m looking forward to getting more involved in the Harrisburg community and seeing how we all learn and grow this year. Thank you so much for reading!

Extended Member Introduction: Savannah

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Hi all,

I’m Savannah and I am from Fairfax, Virginia. I just graduated from University of Mary Washington down in Fredericksburg, Virginia with a degree in English and a minor in Environmental Sustainability.

In looking at my favorite activities, I either love to be very active or very cozy. I love learning about trees and flowers while hiking through nature, but I also love  crocheting while listening to audiobooks or watching Netflix. I love to read while sipping tea with my favorite candle lit, but I also love playing Ultimate Frisbee with my teammates. I love doing yoga at the gym with my mom, but I also love baking while watching John Oliver on Netflix with my fairy lights on. Everything I love to do is all about self care, whether it is taking a moment to appreciate the beauty in nature or learning about current events through comedy (we love modern comedians!), or doing something athletic, its nice to have a variety of feel good activities that make me happy!!

I have noticed that sometimes hearing about a person’s favorite things is a wonderful way to learn about them. It is a simple and easy way to learn quickly some of the things that make them tick. So, here are a list of 11 of my favorite things (I would do 10, but 11 is more fun).

Character: Snoopy
Tea: Lady Grey by Twinings (picking just one was very hard)
Organizational Strategy: To-do lists
Candles: Vanilla Bean or a Fall Scented one (apple, pumpkin, cinnamon)
Season: Fall
Candy Bar: Take 5
Weather: Light drizzle (perfect for dancing in the rain)
Singer: Ingrid Michaelson
Color: Purple
Dinner: Rotisserie Chicken, Rice, and steamed broccoli (simple and yummy)
Book: Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss or Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

This year I am working at Capital Area Head Start as a STEM Teacher. School starts this upcoming Monday, so you could say that I am more than a little excited! I will be helping incorporate more STEM into the kids’ lives, whether it is teaching them about the math and technology or encouraging them to be curious and explore the outside world and why our earth is so important (clearly I’m a bit more interested in the latter haha). I spent this past month training and spending excessive amounts of time with my nose buried in preschool STEM books and Pinterest trying to figure out how to approach my new role. As we get closer and closer to opening day, I am actually more confident and excited than I am nervous. And more than anything else, I am definitely ready to leave that training room! 😉

Another key part about our year of service is that we are supposed to be active with our affiliated church. As you might expect from someone who both loves nature and beautiful things, I signed up for flower guild. While I am not scheduled for a month or so, I am super excited to start and learn the process of flower arranging. On top of this, I spend about two weeks a month working in the nursery during the 10:15 service. It’s a blast to play with the kids and teach them the Old Testament stories that I grew up on while singing my favorite kiddy songs (Peace Like a River is def my favorite).

While it has taken some time to find my groove and place within the city of Harrisburg, as the weeks have progressed I have felt more and more comfortable. I love the framily dynamic that we have at the Sycamore House and I cannot wait to see where and how we grow as the the year passes. A month has flown by and while I can feel a little homesick, technology has allowed me to stay active in my loved one’s lives (my favorite times being when my friends and I take each other on different walking adventures using facetime).

Thank you for listening to my lengthy account. Stay tuned next week for Faith’s post! 🙂

2019-2020 Blog Introduction

It’s that time of year folks!

Community dinners? Well… yes those have started, but we aren’t talking about that
Cold and flu season? Um. Yes that too, but again not my intended subject. (Sycamore? More like sick-some-more)
SpOoOoky season?! Yes, it is the first week of October, but wrong again!

It’s time to start our 2019-2020 blog! In our first entry, we will be doing a brief recap of our past month and a half here, including first hand perspectives of orientation!

The members of the Sycamore House are starting to find their groove in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The stressful, but fulfilling and exciting orientation, orientation showed all the members just how much Harrisburg has to offer. The dinners allowed members to meet wonderful families from church while eating some delicious foods. Adventures, such as exploring midtown and going to the capitol and the Pennsylvania Museum allowed Sycamoreans to better understand Harrisburg culture and how we might want to fit into this charming city. We also went to many church services and even got a house blessing! While exhausting/hectic/busy, orientation was a great way to start building up a community of wonderful, loving people that we can continue developing relationships with as the year progresses.

Orientation was stressful but fun!! I really enjoyed going to Mid-Town and exploring the area! -Shelby

I loved meeting the people of St. Stephen’s and getting to know Harrisburg. I especially loved seeing the capitol! -Faith

Orientation day was exhausting but fulfilling. We got to break in to the system and the system got to break into us, never truly comfortable but utterly necessary for the days to come. One of my favourite moments from the week was walking around the town with my housemates and navigating as a group. Another one is sitting down and eating meals together, no matter where we are invited. -Ian

It was really lovely to be hosted for dinner by all of the different board members. The food was always delicious and it was a fast way to meet some familiar faces from St. Stephen’s. -Emily

I loved getting so many opportunities to meet people one-on-one at the meals we shared together. It has been wonderful to spot those familiar faces at different events! On top of that, exploring the city in different adventures and outings allowed me to start feeling less like a stranger and more like I belong. -Savannah

As the weeks have progressed, the Sycamoreans have started finding their niches. In the next few weeks, we will be featuring each member and allow them the chance to tell you about how their life in Harrisburg is looking; from their placement to recreational activities to involvement in the church! Stay tuned 🙂