A Victorian Home for All

04 Jun

First impressions: many. I love this place already. In my short time here, 3 days to be exact, I have already dealt with emotions of insecurity, happiness, gratitude, confusion, sadness, and hope. All in this beautiful, Victorian home. There is no doubt that this place serves as a safe haven, source of confidence, and more for many in the community. Even in my little office, in the back corner of the second floor, the conversations and energy of people working endlessly for the well being of others is penetrated.

Dr. Burns is a fine source of inspiration, knowledge, intelligence, passion, and challenge to say the least. His expectations are high, but with reason. He has such great wishes and goals for the community of West Oakland, and has accomplished so much already. Yet, the work within Prescott-Joseph Center is a true symbol that the work never ends, and we can always be doing more. All is done with intent here, which I could not be more thankful towards. Not one move is done without considering the genuine and true needs of the community it will serve. In all honesty, I could go on and on about the individuals that I have met here already. To keep it short, trust me when I say that they are all truly special, hardworking, and kind-hearted people- each worker here has a story and a reason for their presence.

As for what I have learned about myself- I’ve learned quite a few things… I’ve learned that I need to continue maneuvering and processing my discomfort and insecurities about the task at hand. Having such phenomenal predecessors, Danny & Amelia, I am inspired and motivated by the work they did, and continue to do, for PJC. At the same time, I am intimidated. Yet, I have confidence that working with Dr. Burns will help me grow in many ways. For, at the end of the day, the work that I am doing is much bigger than myself. It is for the benefit of a community, and I feel so lucky and humbled to be in such a role.

Today I attended a parenting class here at PJC. Two mothers came in, and I sat with them and Kwame, an ARS Family Advocate, who led the class. We learned and discussed how to be a successful urban parent, with the focus being specifically on having discipline action plans. The mothers, and Kwame who is a father, shared so many personal accounts. Laughs were shared, tears were shared, silence was shared. All in 2 hours on my third day here. I am excited to continue learning from these parents, and from hearing their experiences, being able to create programs and resources that will better benefit their needs.

In these next weeks to come, I am so excited to see the work that I’ll be able to accomplish, as well as the growth of the community members who come in every day. I hope to establish a great relationship with Dr. Burns, and others working here, for, they are all truly so talented and hard working. I just hope that after this program, West Oakland serves as a second home to me, and PJC as well. And that I’ll be able to look back (and continue to help!), and be truly grateful for my experiences here.

As for the value of simplicity being a major tone to this program, and the readings, I am so grateful. I think that it adds much more intent behind my actions, and it makes this experience that much more true and real. I love our living situation- even though the area is simple and run down, it is home. We don’t have much, yet, sitting around in the evenings and talking to each other consumes all our time that we don’t notice the material things we lack. Also, I’ve learned that grocery shopping on a budget is accessible! Of course, it requires more conversation and consideration, but what’s bad about that? I am happy that I’ve been challenged to ask myself “Do I really need this?”

Overall, three days in, I am excited and anxious for what is to come! Yet, I know I can expect truly great things from these 8 weeks. And I am sure, 8 weeks will prove to be too short. Nonetheless, I am excited for the work I’ll produce while here at PJC and am excited about the time to be spent with my housemates!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Prescott-Joseph Center











1 Comment

Posted by on June 4, 2014 in 2014 Ariana Alvarez


One response to “A Victorian Home for All

  1. Michelle Barker

    June 4, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Ari. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences in just these first few days! It sounds like your experience has already been very rich and meaningful, and more is yet to come. I am looking forward to seeing you, and the other Micah Fellows this evening as we discuss how things are going and the merits of “voluntary simplicity.”


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