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Category Archives: 2012 Kaitlin Anderson

Making Memories

When Danny, Mehari, Treasha and I decided to intern at the four organizations through the Micah Fellowship, we dreamed of meeting new people, helping communities in crisis, deepening our spiritual relationships, but we did so much more. Over the course of these busy and exciting eight weeks, we have:

  • Cooked together
  • Gone fishing
  • Visited new churches
  • Gone gallery-hopping at the Oakland Art Murmer
  • Canvassed neighborhoods
  • Served together
  • Swapped stories
  • Played games
  • Laughed uncontrolably
  • Cried together
  • Lived intentionally
  • Lived on a tight budget
  • Gained new people skills
  • Bettered our communication skills
  • Improved our problem-solving skills
  • Made new friends
  • Funny stories
  • Communication skills
  • Job skills
  • Make new friends
 
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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in 2012 Kaitlin Anderson

 

Count Your Blessings

After working at St. Anthony’s Foundation for two month, I have had the opportunity to ask countless people the question, “How are you doing?” While I have heard hundreds of typical responses like “Good” and “Fine thanks,” I have also been surprised by the many people who state, “I am blessed. Every day I wake up is a wonderful blessing from God.”

Take Grant, a regular at SAF, who has a severe speech impediment and a physical handicap. One time, I stopped in the middle of lunch service to have a conversation with him and eventually found out that he needed to get new clothes. He asked me to write down everything that he needed because I could understand what he was saying, but most people (including those at St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program) probably couldn’t. After writing down all of his special requests, he looked me in  the eyes and clearly said, “Thank you. You make me feel so special.” As he wheeled himself away, he reached out to kiss my hand and said, “God bless you.”

Each time I hear guests talking about all of the blessings they have in their lives, I stop and think about my own. While I know that I am blessed in many ways, I often forget to give thanks and truly internalize my blessings. Instead of complaining about how little sleep I got the night beforehand, how much my electricity bill is or how much I have been working, I hope to be able to say “I’m blessed” when someone asks how I am doing and truly mean it.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in 2012 Kaitlin Anderson

 

Recovering Together One Day At A Time

To the public St. Anthony Foundation is mainly known for its free dining room. However, there are many other impressive aspects of this organization. SAF has a thirteen-month drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for men known as the Father Alfred Center (FAC). Many of the men in the first stage of FAC work alongside the rest of the dining room staff and make sure to keep the dining room running as optimally as possible.

During my lunch break one day, I sat down in the break room to eat lunch with one of the FAC guys. I was so impressed with how easily he opened up with me to share with me his experiences that brought him to his current state. He was at SAF to get clean, to not fall into the same habits that he had for his entire life, to learn problem-solving and positive coping strategies, to be a role model for his kids, the rest of his family and friends.

Check out a blog from one of the SAF staff and the foundation’s website about the Father Alfred Center.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in 2012 Kaitlin Anderson

 

Who Am I?

On Sunday, my parents and youngest brother came to the Bay to visit my 86-year-old paternal grandmother in Castro Valley so I decided to join them and catch up with all three of them. I call my grandma, Mamason (a nickname that I came up with as a baby when I shortened Grandma Anderson to “Mamason”). Most people who meet my Mamason agree that the die-hard Raider fan that I call my grandmother is a crack-up. She always has a hilarious tale to tell from her adventures growing up in Oakland. While I have heard many of these stories over the years, I had never thought to ask my Mamason or her sister, Sister Roberta (a sister of the Presentation who lives in the motherhouse in San Francisco) about the background of their family. Something that has been especially intriguing is what brought their family to the Bay Area close to one hundred years ago.

While I did not find out why exactly they chose the Bay Area, I know that my great-grandparents worked in the oil and ship-building industries two of the most popular and fruitful businesses in the Bay Area in the 1910s and 1920s when both sets of my great-grandparents came over from Ireland. They did so great in these fields that they were able to bring the rest of their families to the East Bay as well.

What interested me even more than the history of my family was learning about my grandmother and her siblings’ educations. I learned that before my great-grandparents moved down the street from Bishop O’Dowd High School, she grew up going to Sacred Heart Church and going to St. Columba. I was so excited to hear that she had belonged to these two parishes. She told us about how these churches have changed over the years (they appeal mainly to African American and Hispanic populations). What interested me even more than these changes was the fact that the schools that were once associated with these parishes each became a part of St. Martin de Porres schools in Oakland. I was so excited to hear this because that is the place of my work next year—I will be able to work in the same school that my grandmother did seventy-five years ago. I know that I am extremely lucky to have such a strong family history in the area, to know where I came from and the impact that I can make in the Bay Area.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in 2012 Kaitlin Anderson

 

Mission Makeover

Each week, the interns at SAF get together for a time of enrichment and reflection. Last Thursday, the intern coordinator arranged for the five of us to tour Balmy Alley in the Mission District to see the variety of murals painted by local artists. The newest mural that is under construction is called Mission Makeover. This mural is the first designed and painted by Lucia Ippolito, who includes topics such as gentrification, exclusion, racial profiling and discrimination in her mural. She states, “[The mural is meant] to exorcise a few demons from our current times and to educate us about some basic uncomfortable truths that are rampant in our society.”

It is evident that Lucia Ippolito and her mural were placed here in order to be a positive force for her neighborhood. Although her mural is not even complete, many people are flocking to the alley to become better educated about the issues occurring in the Mission and other similar neighborhoods throughout the country and to be a cause for social change.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in 2012 Kaitlin Anderson

 

Home Cookin’

I am so glad that over the course of the past eight weeks, we have been challenged to live on a budget and shop similarly to the locals. While we have been experiencing the struggles of trying to healthily feed ourselves in West Oakland, I have to admit that we still have some privileges compared to many of our neighbors and when we go back home in a few days, we will still have our supermarket down the street.

There are many people who are working to change this injustice for West Oakland and its greater communities.

1)      We have a food budget of $100 a week ($25 per person). While this is not a lot by any means, this set amount of money comes in consistently—there is never a week that we are without. That consistency (and the fact that it is someone else’s money) is in itself a gift.

2)      We all value living healthy lifestyles and eating well. We already know the importance of fruits and vegetables and grew up eating them. Nobody had to wean us away from eating fast food or expensive junk food. We saw the importance of eating well and made sure to make decisions regarding food accordingly.

3)      Another positive is that we have a kitchen with a working stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator and sink—many people do not have this much. In most of the SROs that I have been visiting in the Tenderloin, most rooms do not have any of these amenities while some have small fridge/ microwave combinations or kitchenettes. We are by no means limited to what we can cook by the amenities that are in our apartment—just by our skills and creativity.

4)      We have a car and internet to drive us to the stores and look up recipes. Because we have been staying in a food desert, we know how inconvenient shopping can be. However, we have the ability to drive to the grocery store ten minutes away while people without cars would be forced to take public transportation or get a ride from someone else. When something is on sale (but we don’t know any good recipes), we could easily do research to find something tasty.

By living in West Oakland this summer, I have recognized how fortunate I am in a multitude of ways. Before, I was constantly stressed over time and money. I was working a lot to pay my bills and the quality of my life was suffering. But now I know that I can stretch a dollar even thinner than I was before. I know to shop at discount stores like Grocery Outlet and seasonally at farmer’s markets, to make small changes in recipes like using chicken thighs instead of boneless chicken breasts or died black beans instead of canned black beans, to using recipes with inexpensive ingredients like pasta and potatoes and only cook from scratch compared to the pricey alternative of pre-made food or take-out.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in 2012 Kaitlin Anderson

 

Hidden Jewels of West Oakland

A few weeks ago, all four of the Micah fellows went to a community meeting that focused on initiating change in West Oakland (specifically the Lower Bottoms neighborhood). I talked to a number of people who were committed to the well-being of their neighborhood and all of the people in it. While some of the people at the meeting had lived in West Oakland for over a decade, many had also grown up elsewhere. Each of the people that I talked to mentioned the many jewels that attracted them to this area or what is keeping them here. And I can see what they were drawn to:

  • Proximity to Downtown Oakland, San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area via BART
  • Neighbors who care about each other
  • People who look after one another’s well being
  • A community that comes together when in need
  • An empowering history

I came across a local chef’s blog about why she opened her restaurant in West Oakland. If you want to hear why ANOTHER person chose to come to the Bay Area and start to develop roots here, check out the blog entry.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in 2012 Kaitlin Anderson