I’ve been very honest with my housemates about my struggles with working behind a desk for these last 8 weeks. Prior to my Micah experience, I had never worked in an office setting before. I was unfamiliar with the expectations associated with working in this type of environment – business casual apparel, lack of mobility, etc. As time went on, I began to lose sight of what my purpose at PJC was. How am I making a difference by sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day and staring at a computer screen? Can what I am doing within these four walls change anything that is going on outside in the West Oakland Community?
Slowly but surely, I learned that it did. Because of short staffing, I had to devote some of my time to the registration process at PJC’s summer camps. At first, it seemed similar to what I was already doing in my office, filing papers and not connecting with the community. As my doubts about my service were reaching their peak, students of mine from St. Martin de Porres School began walking through the doors of St. Patrick’s gym. My former students, who I worked with as a Bonner Leader during the 2011-2012 school year, greeted me with hugs and excitement. On a different day, I was asked to watch a child whose parents hadn’t arrived to pick him up yet. Giovanni sat with me in my office and became my little “assistant” for the few hours that he was there with me. He was given urgent assignments such as completing the maze in his coloring book and finding the latest games on cartoon network’s website. For two weeks, I helped plan a focus group for residents of the Campbell Village Housing community. At the focus group, we were blessed with the presence of 3 generations of one family: a child, her mother and her grandmother.
Moments like these have shown me why indirect service is so important. The community could not be served without organizing, planning and funding. These are all things that occur behind closed doors. Although working in an office may not have been the most exhilarating and stimulating job, I now realize how essential it is to helping the community. I now see that my work directly impacts community members like Giovanni, my former students and the residents of Campbell Village. I can leave the Micah Program knowing that I helped PJC change the lives of members of the West Oakland community.