My time at St. Vincent has been both enjoyable and wholly surprising. I came to this internship expecting simply a job; I come away having the great pleasure of knowing a community. See, I come from a rather large city and have never known the experience of a small town. After some getting used to, my eyes were opened to not only how the staff at St. Vincent cares about each other and the citizens they serve, but how the citizens care about one another. I have had the joy of sitting in the second hand store and hearing siblings and neighbors talk and banter while taking the time to check in on the latest concerns they have. I have had the pleasure of speaking with participants that ask about how this person or that person are doing, truly caring about the answer. Even if I had not had these enjoyable moments, to walk in and see a prayer board with names written in ever hand writing would have been enough to show the love the citizens of this community have for one another. Of course, no community is perfect; however I have met more kind hearts and gentle souls in working through this internship than I have in any other three month span of my twenty-one years.
My most cherished memories not only come from the second hand store, but the Grow Appalachia gardening program, the original reason I came. The best parts of my summer were going out to see people’s gardens, even when the weather was making the growing hard, seeing the pride on the gardener’s face made my day every time. I took delight in seeing the gardens of children and watching them light up when they talked about what they had done. Home visits were not the only times Grow Appalachia brought joy to the participants, I fondly remember many second hand store mornings when the garden was the topic of discussion, hearing the wisdom of experienced gardeners being passed down so casually was an experience I will not soon forget. However, doing interviews with the gardeners has to have been my favorite part of the entire summer. Hearing the candid and profound answers to the simple questions such as “why do you garden,” has been both humbling and exhilarating. I will openly admit I have called home to share what the interviewees said, almost every evening.
My time at St. Vincent has been enjoyable, entertaining, educational and memorable. This experience has solidified my desire to become a social worker, while at the same time giving me new perspective for that future career. I would not trade this summer for any other, and I pray that the citizens and staff I have encountered know just how amazing they truly are.