As I write this blog post, there are exactly 30 days left of my service year with Good Shepherd Volunteers. I am feeling many emotions as I reflect on my year living in New York City, serving at a Family Foster Care agency, and being away from my home, friends and family. It is ironic that the same anxiety that I felt going into this year is just like the anxiety I am currently feeling as my time as a GSV comes to a close. I have so much to be thankful for and wanted to show my gratitude by writing an open thank you letter. As Saint Mary Euphrasia said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart”.
Thank you, New York City,
For helping me gain more independence, showing me that I am tougher than I think I am, improving my sense of direction, being progressive on topics like Mental Health (Mental Health First Aid), enhancing my cultural competence, teaching me how to use a public transit system, challenging me to budget my money wisely, proving that New Yorkers are actually really nice people, and for the delicious food that is readily available at any time of the day and night.
Thank you, Good Shepherd Volunteers, For accepting me into your program, deepening my understanding of the 4 tenets of social justice, spirituality, community, and simplicity, and introducing me to the sisters of the Good Shepherd, who each embody what it means to be a “super woman.” Thank you for providing me the opportunity to attend events, like the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, where I learned from and connected with like-minded individuals from across the globe who wish to make this world a better place. Thank you for the retreats that involved deep reflection and lessons. And thank you for bringing into my life a group of amazing and kind people whom I now consider family.
Thank you, Good Shepherd Services Family Foster Care (FFC), For teaching me about the world of foster care. In the short time I have worked in the field, I have learned about all the moving parts that make up the agency, specifically the Special Services division that includes life skills trainings as well as education and vocational services for youth in care. These services play a huge role in molding the youth into successful adults despite their placement in foster care. Thank you to all of the youth for showing up to the PYA (Preparing Youth for Adulthood) groups, allowing another “stranger” from the agency to enter your life, and being open to the lessons that my colleagues and I created to provide you the tools to be successful. Thank you to all the caring and dedicated FFC staff that welcomed me with open arms and positively impacted my experience.
Thank you, Friends and Family, For understanding my passion of serving others, supporting me as I moved to a new city, all the texts and calls checking in, answering my calls when I needed to vent about my day, for the comfort when I felt lonely, nervous and homesick, and for everyone that visited and explored the city that I called home for the past year.
Just Love, Shanelle Abdullah Washington Heights '18-'19