Bethanne, a former year-long volunteer, shares her Christ House experience:
When friends and family ask about how I’m spending my first year out of college, some people comment on how “sad” or “difficult” my job must be, and question why I wouldn’t prefer to have a paying job or go straight to medical school. I realize that so much of my experience slips through the cracks of my descriptions, and that the most meaningful parts of the past year have come from the relationships I have formed with patients, Kairos Program men, other Year-Long Volunteers, and Christ House staff.
I believe that the emphasis on community at Christ House has facilitated nearly all of my most meaningful interactions throughout the year. I will never forget witnessing a patient speak to his family for the first time since he was released from incarceration, or the first time I watched a patient hear that he was accepted into the Kairos Program. I will always appreciate the grace and patience that Spanish-speaking patients have when I stumble through my limited vocabulary, poor grammar, and constantly ask them to repeat things. More than anything, I am thankful to have been welcomed into such an amazing organization, and even from day one, I felt as though my input and opinions were encouraged.
Of course, among the uplifting success stories at Christ House, there were those that were challenging. I will never forget waiting for four hours at the Social Security Administration or watching a patient turn down a housing opportunity that we had spent weeks securing. I came to fully appreciate the difficulty of helping someone who does not want to be helped, and have learned how to establish a relationship of trust and empathy with even the most guarded patients. I spent my first Christmas away from home this year, but fondly remember the look on patients’ faces when they opened their gifts. While navigating health insurance applications and cold-calling dozens of nursing homes, I experienced first-hand the barriers that so many Americans face in accessing adequate healthcare.
As my year of service comes to a close, I think that I will miss this incredible community the most. While I will undoubtedly have both inspiring and heartbreaking interactions with patients as a physician in the future, I can only hope for such amazing people to share these stories with. It has been an absolute privilege to live and work among the five other Year-Long Volunteers, and I would be extraordinarily lucky to one day have coworkers who are half as committed as the staff that I work with every day at Christ House.
Learn more about the Year-Long Volunteer Program.