I was placed in Mount Vernon House this year, located in Rockcastle County right across the street from Rockcastle House. Once pandemic precautions went into place at CAP, I started serving from within the volunteer house (instead of in the usual office), and proceeded to move to my own apartment afterwards (while continuing to serve remotely). This is not typically an option for volunteers who have elected to live in community, but CAP made it an option for volunteers living in community in these extraordinary times.
I've been thinking of my fellow volunteers lately, whether they be in Kentucky or California or anywhere in between. This is the letter I've written to the other volunteers who were placed in Rockcastle County this year:
I hope this finds you well.
As I consider the trials you've withstood this year, I appreciate your commitment and "stick-to-it-ness" in support of CAP's mission. Thank you for keeping the food pantry running, and thank you for the numerous other ways in which you've adapted your time and efforts to continue sharing Christ's love through service in Appalachia.
As you know, I'm among the volunteers who have been living out of community for the past weeks, having relocated to serve remotely from my personal apartment in response to COVID-19. However, you've been in my thoughts as I look out my window in Syracuse, NY.
I think of one housemate's penchant for storytelling and enthusiasm for board games. I think of another's creative spirit and caring heart. I think of a third housemate's sense of humor, and another's passion for justice. I think of the hospitality shown by Rockcastle House residents during community dinner and movie nights. And I think of how blessed I am to have shared time in service and community with you.
The last few weeks with CAP, as with many organizations across the world, have been characterized by a lot of uncertainty in light of COVID-19. Likewise, uncertainty challenges my assumptions of what CAP service might look like in Fall 2020 and beyond. In the face of finite medical resources, it has become clear that proper safety precautions are now an indispensable component of our service (as you are all aware). But how will new discoveries regarding the nature of COVID-19 continue to inform CAP's response in new ways?
Our next cohort of One-Year volunteers are boldly apprehending this world of uncertainty, and they will be in good company among folks who will be renewing commitment in August or finishing the year that they started in January. There may be more uncertainty than usual this year, but folks who are committing to a year of service already know, to some extent, what we have continued to learn this year: they know that Christ's love is worth the risk. Even if it might look different from what we initially expect.
If you have shared word of CAP with your friends or family, or if you have written blogs for our website, thank you! As July approaches, so does our final deadline for One-Year volunteers to start in August. Let's invite some determined hearts for service to join CAP's programs in 2020-21!
Peace & love,
Benny Mattis is a One-Year volunteer serving remotely in CAP's Volunteer Program. If you want to learn more about serving with CAP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.