By Elena Northuis, FC 22
When I think back to the start of my journey to FrancisCorps, the first thing that comes to mind is absolute terror. In January of 2020 I had just gotten back from a semester abroad in France and had zero clue about what I would be doing after I graduated. I hadn’t taken my GREs, I hadn’t applied to graduate school, I hadn’t applied to any jobs… Needless to say, I was freaking out. I decided right then and there to meet with my advisor. A man full of wisdom and encouragement, he assured me that my anxieties were not unfounded and suggested that I check out different gap-year programs. While searching, I felt called to spend my gap year participating in a service-based program. With that in mind, I continued my search where I stumbled upon the FrancisCorps program after failing to find a deep connection to other volunteer programs.
Although I just happened upon FrancisCorps in my search, something about this experience was different. I was drawn to its welcoming, family-like feel. The small, intimate and intentional community was very appealing to me. I was also relieved to hear that the program staff was also a small group that we interacted with in a more intimate setting than larger volunteer experiences. The more I read the FrancisCorps website, the more comfortable and excited I felt about a volunteer year; I felt like this was where God was calling me. With that in mind, I applied, hoping that if this was where I was being called, God would guide me there.
Throughout the application and interview process, the staff was incredibly warm, encouraging, and helpful. I was eventually accepted into the FrancisCorps program and I felt so much immediate relief and excitement for the coming year. Flash forward to March 2020, (you know what is coming…) COVID-19 took over. I almost instantaneously entered into a panic as many in my graduating class had their positions revoked or suspended and many programs ceased. During this time, the small staff of three never wavered in their support for us. I am so grateful that my journey to FrancisCorps was smooth sailing amidst everything going on.
Since the staff took the brunt of the stress in the months leading up to the beginning of the FrancisCorps year, I was free to be excited for the year! Two of the things I was most excited for were the job placements, personalized to our interests (I am working at Northside CYO with the Youth Program), and the community living. I am so excited to grow more in my faith with such a wonderful group of girls this year! So far, COVID-19 has changed the way things are done at my worksite and in my community (so I have been told), but it doesn’t bother me too much since I never experienced it a different way!
Elena is a Youth Mentor at Northside CYO. Visit our service sites page to learn more about Elena’s site and others we offer.