A Reflection From Shannon Scruggs (pictured top right)
Living in the Moment
Many lessons have evolved from a year of stepping way out of my comfort zone, working with a different population, and living in the midst of a global pandemic. I think one of the greatest lessons that I will take away after my service year is to not only live in and for the moment, but to love in the moment. Once I boarded the plane to come to Kentucky, I promised myself that I would take it all in for all it was worth. I learned to (safely) put my trust in strangers as I didn’t know a single person in this state, and I committed to driving myself towards building authentic relationships. I took advantage of opportunities to learn about my fellow volunteers and the community I came to call my home. I learned the importance of capturing moments not only as pictures and videos on my phone, but in my heart as well because some things are meant to be held there – not just in the cloud – forever.
The Impact of Stories
When I reflect, sometimes I feel that I gained more from my participants than the services I gave to them, and they will never understand the impact they have had on my life. I cultivated a new understanding of gentleness and grace. Serving an older and vulnerable population presented new emotions for me. I experienced the first death of my career, and while I knew that one day that would happen given the field I have chosen, I did not realize the impact her memory would have on me as I continued. I recognized the value of stories – telling them and listening to them. Stories build our identities and the experiences one shares carry so much meaning.
Lessons from the Pandemic
The pandemic has emphasized to me that we are not promised anything day to day. I never expected to be across the country, separated from my family and loved ones as we watched the world pause. It felt wrong to be in a “safer” state as my family experienced more severe conditions. But because of the commitments I had made to myself and the service, I experienced many moments rooted in love and I discovered how to recode what service meant.
The most notable change I see already is the unfolding of greater confidence. I remember telling someone recently, “after everything I’ve gone through this year, I feel like I can do anything.” I know that in my upcoming transitions, as I am removed from this environment I have become accustomed to, I will gradually become more aware of differences in my outlook and attitude. In choosing a career path of Social Work, my whole goal is to serve and assist others. I hope that within the next few years, I can pinpoint my passions and engage myself in a job that allows me to continue to work with those that are vulnerable. I hope to always be a voice and advocate for those in need. Even when circumstances are not the best, I will aim to serve others on foundations of love and respect.