This past Tuesday, my housemates and I officially moved into the Baltimore JV house in Charles Village, an area made up of colorful row-homes like the ones pictured. Our fully furnished two-floor row-home has three double sized rooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, washer, dryer, 1.5 baths, an old TV and VCR, and refrigerator. We don’t have cable, internet (*GASP*) or air conditioning (I know, I know. How will we live!?) and the house is rather, um, lived-in, but we do have a small backyard that we hope to turn into a vegetable garden and a front porch, which is really cool because I’ve never lived in a house with a porch.
On our first night, our placement coordinators (bosses), our F(ormer)JV support people, and some Jesuits living up the street came over for a meet and greet, pizza, and ice cream. In what’s become somewhat of a trend with this JVC stuff, they were all great people willing to help us in whatever way they could. The next day, Diana, an FJV, gave us a walking tour of the area, pointing out our bank, trusted neighbors, the Johns Hopkins and Waverly libraries (HELLO INTERNET!), places for food and drink, grocery stores, a weekly local produce market, churches, places to go and places to avoid, and the main streets. Charles Village is a real nice area with a good neighborhood feel to it.
Next, two of last year’s Baltimore JV’s, Alyssa and Allie, joined us to help with banking and explain more about our housing situation. The house needs work in some areas (we didn’t have hot water, the basement has a mold problem, the dryer doesn’t work properly, and one of the bedrooms needs weather-proofing) and our landlord tends to ignore these problems, apparently. Luckily, our placement administrators double to advocate for us and John, the official Housing Advocate, is a lawyer with real estate law experience. We truly have some great allies in Baltimore! And don’t worry, our hot water issue was fixed!
On Friday, Tom, the principal at Cristo Rey Jesuit, and Ralph, Director of St. Frances Academy Community Center, picked us up in the CRJ mini-bus for a tour of each of our five agencies and work places for the year. Instead of the usual play-by-play, I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce you to my (awesome) housemates:
First up is Kelly. She’ll be working with me at CRJ as a Physical Education teacher, reading instructor, and head coach of the girl’s soccer team (which I hope to help out with). She played soccer at Providence College and hails from San Diego, California. Why she would ever leave San Diego is beyond me, but we’re happy to have her here!
Next is Stacey. Stacey is from Colorado Springs and attended Seattle University. She’ll be working at the Don Miller House, an adult foster care facility for people with HIV and AIDS, as a residential aide.
My third housemate is Rachel from New Haven, Connecticut. She recently graduated from my father’s alma mater, Holy Cross College, and knows my home city of Worcester, Massachusetts very well. Rachel will be working at Beans & Bread, a day resource center providing meals, case management, and housing placement for the homeless.
Next up is our house’s second-year JV, Amanda. After working at an after school program as a JV in Syracuse last year, Amanda will be working at the Public Justice Center researching the lack of health care present in Baltimore’s prisons. She attended Georgetown College in Kentucky and is originally from Louisville.
Last, but not least, is Scott. Scott is from southern New Jersey and attended Villanova archrival (*GASP*), St. Joseph’s University (PA) – so he may actually be the “least”. Just kidding! Scott’s a solid guy despite his collegiate allegiances and will be working as the assistant director of the St. Frances Academy Community Center.
All of my roommates are great, easy-going people with passion for JVC’s four values (community, spirituality, simple living, and social justice) and JVC’s mission.
As Local-O wore on, more and more support people came by the house to welcome us to the community. We explored more of the area, went to the aforementioned farmer’s market, grocery shopped, had lunch at Pete’s Grille (a Michael Phelps favorite), visited the library, and even went out to the Charles Village Pub.
We all begin work today. We’re a little bit anxious and nervous, but mostly we’re excited and eager to begin our work as JV’s to help make a difference in Baltimore. Wish us luck!