Meet the Members: Shannon

Hello!

My name is Shannon Pedersen, and I am so incredibly excited to be serving with the Episcopal Service Corps at the Sycamore House this year!

Originally, I was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. For college, I attended Messiah College, which is about 20 minutes away from the Sycamore House and located in Mechanicsburg, PA. I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Politics and International Relations. Since the Harrisburg suburban area is already familiar to me, I am looking forward to building new and deeper friendships with the urban community.

I have a very mixed faith background, but in the beginning of 2018, I began attending various Episcopal churches. I love the liturgy of the church as well as the open welcome to the LGBTQ+ community, so when I learned about the Episcopal Service Corps, I was eager to find a placement that I could call home for a year. This year, I am working at the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania as an Events Coordinator & Assistant to the Canon for Congregational Life and Mission.

During this year, I look forward to continuing to follow my passions of interfaith and intercultural relations as well as community development across socioeconomic barriers. When I’m not working, I enjoy reading books, hiking, and playing board or card games!

 

Meet the Members: Madi

Hello!

My name is Madi Keaton, and I am a recent Messiah College graduate who is serving at the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (a legal aid clinic that represents Pennsylvania’s low-income utility and energy customers) and the Community Justice Project (a legal aid clinic protecting the civil rights of low-income Pennsylvanians through improved public benefits, affordable housing, better pay, and more). As someone who wants a career in environmental justice (and is leaning more and more towards law school every day), being able to work on cases to fight for basic human rights like access to water or a home is a dream come true.

I grew up about 50 minutes from Harrisburg, which means that the most common question I get from family and friends back home is, “Harrisburg? Why didn’t you choose a Service Corps location further away, like Boston or LA?” The truth is, I love Harrisburg. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere, Harrisburg is unfamiliar, daunting, and exciting. Throughout my time at Messiah, I traveled to Harrisburg frequently for my internship at the YWCA, hung out with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, and attended concerts and ate at restaurants. I had an unusually strong affection for the city and knew in my heart as I got closer and closer to graduation that I needed to find a way to stay there just a little longer.

In my free time, I like to do anything involving nature, music, or art. I love going on long hikes, gardening, and tending to one of the many plants occupying my room. In the fall, you’ll see me scanning the ground and fallen trees for identifiable mushrooms and in the spring, my eyes will shift towards treetops looking for birds. I was raised in a musical family, singing and playing guitar and performing in musical theater. If I don’t listen to music within a span of 24 hours, I get noticeably agitated. I listen to everything from 1950’s country to 12-minute-long sitar recordings to mumble rap, and please don’t ask me what my favorite song is because the answer you’ll get is a 50-way tie. My family also owns a pottery shop, so I grew up with a love for creation. I like to paint with watercolors and make jewelry, as well as sew, crochet, and craft just about anything.

I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this year’s Sycamore House and am looking forward to getting to know my housemates and the members of St. Stephen’s Cathedral!

Holy Saturday

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Today, on Holy Saturday, I have been reflecting on the in-between times of life. The times when we are waiting, when we are hoping for something more that we cannot yet see. The times when we are stuck in a season of life that we don’t love, when we are working on a problem that is unresolved, when the hard things seem too hard.

As I have the privilege of meeting with organizations all over Harrisburg to learn about what they do, and to determine how the Sycamore House might be able to collaborate, I think about this a lot. I meet with people who are working hard for justice, and who see little victories here and there, but who are often working, hoping, and waiting in faith for change. Change for immigrants and asylum seekers locked in a detention center in Berks County- men, women and children who don’t know how long they will be there, and if they will be sent back to their countries of origin (which many of them left fearing for their lives). Change for individuals in poverty who don’t have the resources to turn their electricity back on or to pay their heating bills. Change for those living in food deserts in Harrisburg, who hope for more affordable and fresh options. Change for parents hoping for an education that is equitable and will offer their children more opportunities and alternatives to “running the streets.” Change for youth in Harrisburg and all over the U.S. who want to be able to go to school without the threat of gun violence.

The time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday sometimes seems to stretch longer than we’d like it to. Waiting is not an easy thing to do. And yet, God works within us and around us, even in the waiting period.

As people of faith, we know the final outcome- God’s grace and love wins. As I once heard Tony Campolo say, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” Well, today, we are one day closer.

Let us join together, work, and pray faithfully, and say, “It’s Saturday, but Sunday’s coming.”

-Micalagh Moritz, Program Director

Building Community

 

In my last post, I wrote about doing “small things with great love.” Each of us are only given so much time, energy, and gifts to do these seemingly “small things,” and yet, when we work together we know that we can make big changes in our community and world.

Consider the current Sycamore House year, for instance. This year is a little different (due to several circumstances, including low enrollment for national service years), and our corps members are working at various jobs and have various roles in the community. While we will return to our normal model next year, there are good things that are happening in the house currently that should also be highlighted.

The group has started a weekly free yoga class in the house, offering this option to others in the community. They have been building community through a Dungeons and Dragons gathering bi-weekly. When they had their housewarming party, they helped gather coats as the weather was getting cold and distributed them at a local meal for people in need of food and warm clothes.

Serina is working at Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market at RiJuice and is gearing up to grow herbs and vegetables to increase her farming skills and provide locally grown produce to the Market customers. She is passionate about growing things, and this is evident in where she spends her energy and time. She is looking forward to doing some planting at the house as spring comes closer.

Joshua works at the Broad Street Market as well at Urban Churn– I’d venture to say that serving delicious ice cream is definitely a community building activity! He is also involved at a local retreat center and at Gamut Theatre, whose mission is to “tell classic stories in new and exciting ways for the entertainment of children and adults alike.”

They both regularly serve food at Food not Bombs to individuals who are in need of a hot meal in downtown Harrisburg.

Mike started as an AmeriCorps member at Habitat for Humanity, and then was hired on as the Outreach Coordinator. He can be found all over the Harrisburg community- collaborating with organizations and residents to make positive changes. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, he has jumped into the Sycamore House and St. Stephen’s Community, using his gifts and talents in many ways.

And that’s only 3 out of the 6 current members of the house. Stay tuned to find out more!

Peace,

Micalagh

Pictures Above:
Left: Sycamore House Corps members during a yoga session, Right: Coats collected for individuals in need

Work site Week – CONTACT Helpline

Hello readers!

This week, we’ll be having a new post every single day.

You read that right, a new post from your favorite Sycamores every day this week!

This week, we’ll be focusing on our work sites. We’ll be sharing what we love most about working there and what we’ve learned so far. Our first work site is CONTACT Helpline, where corps member Emily Hibshman is serving as the volunteer coordinator. Read more below the cut.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Attend Party Gras

It’s that time of year again – we’re halfway through winter, Lent is approaching and thanks to Punxsutawney Phil, we’re looking to an early spring. It’s the time of year to celebrate – that’s right, it’s time for Party Gras! You may be asking yourself, what is Party Gras? It’s a fun(d)raiser hosted by St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral, the sponsoring parish for your favorite service corps, the Sycamore House! Here are 7 reasons why you should attend Party Gras this Friday.

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Being in Sycamore House

I am not really sure how to put into words what my community at Sycamore House really means to me. When I applied to the Episcopal Service Corps, I knew that I would live in an intentional community and spend a year of service, but I had no idea that this community would come to mean to me as much as they do in as short a period of time as it has been. It has been three months since I moved to Harrisburg. I have known my housemates for only three months (with the exception of Bea who went to college with me), but we are already such a tight knit group, and have been since our first month in Harrisburg.

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