Part of a series featuring various members of Faith Community reflecting on the ups and downs of their service year with Covenant House
Andrew, a native of Pennsylvania who studied music education at Immaculata University, has spent the year braving the harsh weather and limited sunlight of Anchorage, Alaska.
Andrew was first drawn to Faith Community because he had always wanted to work with youth. He came across the organization by chance, but after discovering that his family had been donating to Covenant House for years, decided that this was an opportunity to be a part of something important.
And he has found this year to be both demanding and rewarding.
“Living in the community is one of the hardest things I’ve done,” he explains. He was used to the independence of college life, and had to adapt to the experience of Faith Community, where people were relying on him and he had to rely on them. In addition, he had never before lived with female roommates, and he said that living in a mixed gender house has allowed space for exploring different points of view and different ways of running a community. “Living in community is fun, but can also be very difficult. It really has changed me,” he says, “I’ve grown as a person and the self-awareness I’ve gained is amazing.”
Some of the hardest moments Andrew has faced have been at the shelter. “This job is very taxing. Your heart breaks when you see these kids and how they’ve been treated by the people around them throughout their lives.”
“The biggest challenge,” he reflects, “is staying positive. Not with the kids - but with society in general. You have to go home and recharge your batteries each day, so that you can come back and do your best.”
And yet, the most difficult parts of this year have also been the most rewarding. “You’re making a difference in these kids’ lives.” He spoke, for example, about how Covenant House Alaska houses many female residents who have been trafficked, usually by men. The male staff at the shelter thus serve as important male role models for these young women, so that they can build positive relationships with men who are there to help them, not hurt them.
He concluded that being a part of Faith Community and working at Covenant House has truly changed him. “Being part of Faith Community, you have no idea how much of an impact you’re having on these kids.”
And what’s next for Andrew after Faith Community? In fact, he has found the year so inspiring and rewarding, that he has applied to various Covenant House shelters around the country, hoping to continue this work after the year is over.