Meet the Members: Chloe

Hi, my name is Chloe! Last May, I graduated from Calvin College in Michigan with a degree in English Literature and Environmental Studies. I’ve spent my life thus far split equally between three places: Beijing, China; Birmingham, Alabama; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Because of this, I’m not entirely sure where to call home, but this year I’m excited to explore a new place.

Since I spent the first chunk of my life in China as a missionary kid in a small Reformed denomination, I’ve grown up appreciating the role of culture and the importance of community. When I studied in England for a semester during college, I was drawn to the liturgical and ecumenical aspects of the Anglican tradition. Through my time living in the Sycamore House, I hope to learn more about the Episcopal Church as well as how to live intentionally with others.

This year, my service placement is with the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club. As a national grassroots environmental advocacy group, the Sierra Club is largely volunteer-run. My position as an Organizing Fellow primarily involves supporting these volunteer leaders across the state, creating resources for local groups and coordinating statewide strategies for their environmental justice campaigns.

The majority of my work supports the state’s “Ready for 100” campaign, a national movement that advocates for clean and equitable energy, urging local legislators and decision-makers to make commitments to renewable energy and offering action plans to back these resolutions. In light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report, this work feels more critical than ever.

Although it’s been just over a month, I’ve already been challenged and stretched by my time here. And I’ve been incredibly grateful for walks along the Susquehanna River, the goodwill and humor of my housemates, the kindness of my coworkers, and the generosity of the members of St Stephen’s.

Here’s to a good year and to good things to come.

– Chloe

Meet the Members: Katie

Hi, y’all!

My name is Katie Lamp, and I came to Sycamore House by way of small town Alabama. I graduated from the University of South Alabama in December 2016 with my Bachelor’s in Social Work. Before arriving in Harrisburg, I worked in community mental health as a case manager. This year, I will be serving with Capital Area Head Start. I am excited about this opportunity because I have always loved working with children and I am looking forward to being a part of early interventions that will benefit these students for years to come.

Whenever someone finds out where I’m from, the first question is always, “Why Pennsylvania?” The answer is that Pennsylvania is home, too! I was born here along with my mother and three of my grandparents. I fondly remember many summer vacations here and always told my parents growing up that I was going to live here one day, even if just for a year. I’m happy that my statement was correct!

In my free time, I love exploring my new surroundings, reading, and listening to music and sports radio. I love watching football (NOT an Alabama fan!), baseball, and hockey. I am also very interested in genealogy and have composed a substantial family tree archive. When I’m back home in Alabama, I spend a lot of time with my Godson who is almost 4.

Serving with Sycamore House is a dream come true, and I cannot wait to see how being a part of the house, St. Stephen’s, and the Harrisburg community over the next year will impact my life for years to come!

Make Us Ready

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A misty morning view from the upper riverfront path

When the weather is nice and I don’t have too much to transport, I hop on my bike and ride along the riverfront path to get to my office in the Chapter House at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Despite the forecast for rain later (which has now come to fruition), this morning was one of those days. On my commute today, I felt particularly thankful to have a workplace I can bike to. I noticed things along the way that I wouldn’t have noticed in a car: a goldfinch perched on a sparse branch, the misty river view, various interesting people running, walking, and biking along the way to smile and nod at. I got to enjoy my city!

In the past few weeks, we have accomplished much at the house. We have said goodbye to our last crew, and our board and other volunteers have been diligently painting, dusting, purging, washing, sweeping, scrubbing, vacuuming, sweating, gathering, making space, praying!

Our new group arrives in 2 days, and we are just about ready. All of this work has been necessary to prepare us, both practically and mentally, to embrace a new season. I’m thankful that this has been a community effort on the part of many people in the Cathedral.

I feel excited and hopeful to welcome this new group to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and to Harrisburg. I am looking forward to sharing this quirky, complicated, wonderful small city I love with a new group of people, to get to know this new group and begin our journey together. I know I’m not the only one!

A fellow ESC Program Director shared this prayer a few days ago, and it resonated with where we are in our Sycamore House life:

Prayer- from Brother Curtis Almquist, SSJE
Be open for what is new, for what God is wanting to birth in your life. You may need to detach from something of your past. Something new wants to happen, and that new requires space. You may even be able to identify with the Blessed Virgin Mary who, on hearing of this new thing God had for her to bear and give birth to was first afraid, and then she was perplexed, and then she was ready…. God made her ready for this new thing. Amen. 

My prayer is for our Episcopal Service Corps program, and ESC programs all over the country:

God, make us ready for this new thing. Amen.

 

-Micalagh Moritz, Program Director

 

 

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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Incubating the Imagination

Sarah and Priscilla Reflect

I always have to take a deep breath before I walk into the Sycamore House on Friday mornings for our weekly meetings.  As the facilitator of our three-hour reflection/formation time, it’s not unlike getting ready for a final exam or a marathon.  There is always a lot of ground to cover and (surprisingly) not enough time for all of it.  But, we’ve settled into a nice routine on Friday mornings. Often, there is the scent of bacon in the air.  It’s only way for Brigette to really get her morning started.  Occasionally, you can smell an omelet or two prepared by Jess for her housemates.  Always, there is the sound of coffee being made.  Usually, you can find Gabe sitting on the couch, ready to go. Sarah’s usually bobbing around with a smile and a flannel shirt.  Katie is typically trying to finish whatever reading we have in time for discussion and Priscilla usually makes a graceful entrance just as we get started.  She’s typically the only one in the group that’s managed to get out of her pajamas in time for our meeting.

After opening with some kind of spiritual practice, we dig into whatever topic we have for the week.  Being the nerd I am, I try to carefully craft each week to focus on a theological theme that will tie into reflection on the work the Sycamorites are doing in the city.  But it doesn’t matter, really. No matter how much I prepare for our time together, there’s always something that throws it off course.  Sometimes it’s the frustrating week someone has had at his/her work site.  Sometimes, it’s the struggle a house member is having with a family member.  But most of the time, it’s because we get off track.. in the most wonderful of ways.

Friday mornings are a time for spiritual formation and reflection on community experiences.  No matter how carefully the day is constructed, someone’s story will derail us.  Sharing stories on Fridays cultivates a time for imagination.  A time to sit back and look at our collective experiences in reality and dream about possibilities, explore the “what ifs.”  Imagination gets a bad rap sometimes.  Some find it to be divorced from reality, impractical or illogical.  But imagination is one of the things we humans do best.  We look at a world, as it is and dream up a world as it can be.  That’s how we evolve as a community.

The kind of imagination that is ignited on Friday mornings is tethered in concrete, every day experiences, but it isn’t bound to it.  Each person comes into the room with a different picture of Harrisburg– it’s possibilities and challenges. As those images are shared, a new one is created and recreated every week.  That’s at the root of imagination: new images and fresh pictures. So every week, the living room of the Sycamore House becomes an incubator for the imagination– an imagination that is nourished by those in the city who are working to create lasting change, by those in the parish who bring wild flowers and leftovers to the house and stay for a story or two, and by the Sycamore House members (past and present) whose tenacious and persistent sense of wonder always push the boundaries of reality.

The best part is that this kind of imagination is never done alone.  In fact, the Service Corps members’ actions and words consistently remind me that the best kind of imagination is the one that is formed and informed by the community around us.  So today, I’m bracing myself for this Friday.  Not because it is stressful or exhausting (thought it can be), but because I know that when I walk into the Sycamore House in a few days, my picture of the world and of this city will look just a little bit different than it does today.

Glad to be a part of it all,

Emmy