Meeting the residents for the first time

A few nights ago I was asked to stay late and attend a meeting at the new James Widener Ray Homes building to tell them about the event we are planning. We (the development staff) were there just to announce that the main entrance doors would be closed off during the event but we winded up staying for the entire community meeting.

The way this building is set up it to actually build a community neighbordhood within the apartment building. It reminds me a lot of the community you would find in a college dorm. Inside the building is a fitness center, a library, a computer room, and a common area or community room. Project H.O.M.E. invites local chefs for cooking demonstrations a couple times a month and movie nights take place often. All of these little things really impressed me. It reminded me of a word I learned in Guatemala-Subsidiarity.

In other words, they didn’t just build this building, found poor people that needed a home, dropped them off and left them there. They provide these people with a home but act as a lifelong resource. At this meeting they listened to the people’s concerns, asked them what else–do THEY think–can help break the cycle of homelessness. One man raised his hand and said that there are people who are homeless and not visible. They don’t hang out on busy street corners, but maybe in the woods. He had friends who suffered from mental illness and drug addition who spent in the woods in the dead of winter. I thought that was amazing that the Project H.O.M.E. staff were able to hear first-hand where the need is greatest and how they can help.

This meeting was another community event that brought the people together to not only have fun and enjoy the snacks and entertainment, but to talk about serious things like voting. Project H.O.M.E. has an education and advoacy team that makes sure the residents have an opportunity to advocate for homelessness, and are in the loop with policies that are helping and hindering the efforts to break the cycle. At the meeting they handed out voter registration cards and made sure each person was registered to vote. They opened the floor to ask the residents why voting is important. A woman named Hyancinth, a former homeless woman who is now employed by H.O.M.E. said that voting is more than who you elect, but it’s to show the people in power that we are participating and we do care what happens to us and we are watching what you are doing to help or hurt the people of the community.

After this powerful discussion Sr. Mary Scullion, the co-founder of H.O.M.E. and the legend I had heard about prior to applying for this internship introduced herself to the residents and formally welcomed them for the first time. The way she spoke to them, with such passion for the cause, you’d think it was her first time because it was SO genuine. Later, my boss told me she probably delivers a similar welcome speech on a weekly basis. You would never know. The people respect her and were visisbly gracious for the work she does to save the lives of many people I met that night.

Each day I come in to this place I’m reminded of the hope for alleviating poverty. I really think there are enough people out there who care enough to devote themselves to it, and I’m glad to know some of them.


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Feeling welcomed at my new H.O.M.E.

I’m in my 5th week at Project H.O.M.E. and just reflecting for the first time.

I began here just one day after landing in Philadelphia airport from a week-long immersion trip to Ecuador. I was still getting acclimated to life back in the states when I jumped into a huge workload at my new internship here at H.O.M.E.

Project H.O.M.E., in my own words, is a holistic organization that allows a person in need to live with dignity. While H.O.M.E. does have an outreach unit that picks people up off the street, it is designed to do so much more. It’s programs include affordable housing, opportunities for employment, medical care and education. It’s designed for men, women and children. It does not discriminate against any race and welcomes and supports people with addiction problems and mental illnesses. It’s a program that helps any person who has great need and is willing to accept proper guidance to get their life back on track.

I work in the Development office as a Special Events and Communication intern. I have two HUGE projects I am working on this semester. One of which is well under way is the grand opening event of a new affordable housing building called the James Widener Ray Homes building. The building is a million dollar project, thanks to donors including co-owners of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies owners, Leigh and John Middleton, were able to buy this building that was run down and decrepid. With funding from the Raynier Institute and Foundation (a private organization that funds individuals and organizatiosn of charitable nature) H.O.M.E. has been able to revitalize the building into a beautiful apartment building in Philadelphia.

I have been behind all of the logistics of planning this grand opening event that will welcome 150+ guests, including the Mayor of Philadelphia! While I had limited interaction with the true benefits of H.O.M.E.–the residents themseleves–I feel privledged to be planning an event that is celebrating social justice in an incredible way. (I’ll explain more about the other event as the time gets closer)

I feel I am starting to see my personality fitting nicely into the world of a develpment office and my communication skills–writing, media, and even some ametuer design really coming in to play. I can tell this is an environment where there’s a lot of passionate work taking place, and although they might not be making three figures…ever…the reward is something a paycheck can not provide. Granted, I am saying this without a mortgage or college loans beckoning at my mail box yet, but I still desire to take on this kind of job nonetheless.

As I’m seriously starting to consider all of these elements of a career–the workplace, who the work is benefitting, how it benefits me, the pay–I have a lot to consider. I’m excited at the idea that a few short months away from now I will really be faced with deciding what I will be doing with my life!

In the meantime, I will relish at the thought of being a free-spirited event planner where everyone at the work place is vegan and spiritual-but not religious, and all about the social justice. (not saying those are the kind of people I work with………;) )

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Meeting the CMCs and serious technical difficulties…

Over the weekend, I was invited to the house of Sr. Grace Waters, MSC to film the Cabrini Mission Corps Missioner retreat. Five of the six current missioners were present (the sixth is placed in the Philippines) and all, as per ususal were warm and welcoming.

Danielle accompanied me yet again in filming the reflective retreat. It was exciting meeting all of the missioners whose stories are similar to mine in that they are still searching for what it is to do with their lives. I am interested in their reasons for joining CMC and am also interested in their values and beliefs. This was an easy job because I felt so at home and like I was surrounded by good people.

This morning, I met with the missioners again to interview them about their journeys. The interviews were set up similarly to the MSCs. We spent an hour interviewing the missioners as a group. It was such a perfect conversation. SO perfect in fact, that something had to have gone wrong… I forgot to press the RECORD button!

Pressing record is as crucial as turning off the stove when you leave the house or flushing the toilet before you leave the bathroom. This was not only the most embaressing experience I can even recall, it was also such an irritating error. HOW did I forget the most important step?

Well, I admitted to my fault right away. Expecting to recieve some negative feedback for my neglect to detail, I was surprised that my boss, Gina was not mad. She laughed at the accident (mistake, really) and told me she really feels these types of things happen for a reason. Well I’d like to give the best boss in the world award to GINA SCARPELLO!

I plan to rearrange my schedule to rerecord the interview because the missioners are willing to do so. I can’t ever complain about my work when I’m surrounded by people like this who don’t sweat the small stuff and who know what really matters.

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Visit to NYC to explore mission of MSCs

In the past 2 weeks, I have been privileged to go “out in the field” for my internship and meet the incredible women I have been hearing stories of since my internship began. These incredible women are Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also known as Cabrini Sisters.

I was joined by senior Danielle Alio who is well-known in the Cabrini community as an excellent videographer, and happens to be a good friend of mine. We were both lucky enough to also share this experience with Cabrini Mission Corps missioner and NYC native, Roxanne De La Torre.

The girls and I left on a Thursday night and arrived at Columbus Community, one of several places the MCSs live in the city. We were warmly greeted by Sr. Toni and the rest of the community. Our work began early the next day with a trip to Mother Cabrini High School in the city, then a trip to Dobbs Ferry, NY to visit the Cabrini Nursing and Rehabilitation center, along with Cabrini Immigrant Services. The following day we met with several more sisters i nthe Cabrini apartment, and finally visited Sacred Heart C onvant. At each of these places we met with several Cabrini Sisters who shared with us their personal journeys and how they came to religious life.

As I am in my own personal journey, seeking what it is I want to do with my life, I very much valued their stories of struggle and hardship, and also their stories of great blessings. These women, many of whom are in the last stretch of the race in life, seemed to enjoy reflecting back at the places they have been to and the relationships they have built. They all spoke so passionately about their relationship with God and also their love for the mission of Mother Cabrini. Cabrini herself built a mission under extraordinary circumstances and succeeded in helping people’s lives.  They all spoke on behalf of a word very close to the mission of Cabrini: disponibilita.

Disponibilita is a word that, after asking all of the sisters to define the term, I translate as “the willingness to be sent.” These women have made themselves available to the will of God and trust that everything put in front of them has reason and meaning. I have found this to be so beautiful and, although I’m not a Cabrini Sister, I am a member of the Cabrini family and I believe that it’s not coincidental that I am a student here at Cabrini College but that there is a reason.

I feel as though I may have been sent to meet these people, probably not to become a sister (that is a commitment I have yet to, and will most likely never explore) but to be able to use my communication skills to inform others considering this kind of life what it’s all about. For that, I am grateful to be a part of this process that Nancy calls “vocation promotion.”

Now that we have compiled some really good stuff—video, audio, still photography—we can start making some magic.

I am grateful to Danielle who has given up her time to work with me to help me learn video (filming and shooting.) I will admit, I am overwhelmed with the almost six hours of footage we have from this weekend but I have a feeling we have some sisters praying for us!

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Using my skills as a communicator to produce meaningful projects

This semester, I am finding that my coursework along with my co-op in the MSC and CMC office is becoming intertwined. I am finding the connection between my communication skills, and my passion for social justice and change.

This morning in fact, I had a class that made me think about what it means to be a communication major—or even deeper, a communicator. As someone who has taken on the challenge of becoming a skilled communicator through journalism and other forms of media, I have recently developed a sense of responsibility to be this sort of voice for people who may not have the skills I do or the outlets I do but have a burning desire to be heard.

My internship this semester is an opportunity for me to tell the story of Mother Cabrini and the many different people that live out her mission. I am beginning to find my bearings within the marketing field while discovering the mission of Mother Cabrini and the community she has created. After finally developing my learning objectives, I am beginning to understand more clearly what it is I am doing here.

To clarify some of the people I am working with, here is a brief explanation: Gina Scarpello works in the Cabrini Mission Corps office serving as Director and Nancy Costello works in the same office, coordinating Vocation Promotion for not only the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but also for the entire Cabrinian Community. My time spent in the office is divided between both of them. On Tuesdays, I work with Nancy, Thursdays with Gina.

 Nancy initially proposed that I help create the image of the MSCs in a way that gives clarity to all people, no matter their knowledge of the mission. In doing this, I have taken on the tasks of producing a brochure, a bookmark, and video snapshots of the sisters. I began by outlining the content that would be in the brochure and then presented to Nancy. I have drafted several different copies of what the brochure will look like and have meet weekly with Nancy to refine the brochure, making certain that it encompasses the model and mission of the MCSs. Next, I will be making an accompaniment piece to the brochure. I will follow the same process as will the brochure.

The largest project that is currently in the making will be the video snapshots of the MSCs and CMCs. I have outlined a storyboard with both Nancy and Gina to plan and prepare for the footage I will be shooting this upcoming weekend in NYC (I will travel with fellow senior Danielle Alio and CMC missioner Roxanne De LaTorre to visit the MSCs at their home and their workplace like the high school, immigrant services, and the nursing home.)

 I am beginning to understand the importance of preplanning. I am familiar with doing my ‘homework’ before interviewing someone. However, storyboards are fairly new to me. I’m used to going out to report, compiling lots of different information, and then digesting it and cleaning it up post interview. Video seems to work a little differently, as well as video that is meant to market a brand. With Gina, I am creating similar projects, aimed at the CMC missioners. Both projects are meant to target prospective people who are considering religious life in any capacity.

Throughout the internship, aside from my 9-5 shift a couple times a week, I will be attending outside events like the MSC assembly and the CMC retreat. Both events will be opportunities to get to know the people living out the mission of Mother Cabrini and help me identify a good angle to produce my marketing projects.

This experience in the past month has not only been educational in regards to marketing and communication, but it’s been very interesting to learn about different opportunities. A little aside—I learned about CMC and Gina through my potential interest in doing service after graduation. Although I have filled my mind with many other opportunities after graduation since our initial meeting, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about Gina’s job as director of post-grad service and beyond that, getting to know the actual missioners themselves. I not only have appreciation for Gina and Nancy and the jobs they hold, but most recently for the MSCs, the CMCs, and the rest of the community that makes up Cabrini.

I look forward to my trip this weekend and would like to give a shout out to Danielle Alio for taking time out of her busy life to make the journey with me to help me tell the story of the MSCs and CMCs. Yet another example of someone I appreciate!

Originally published October 11, 2011.

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Recognizing the mission of my education, and my role in that mission

Hello again to my followers! All three of you…

This semester I have been given an opportunity to serve as a marketing intern for the Cabrinian Community.

Let me try to explain to you what exactly the Cabrinian Community is. Here it goes…

So there is this “umbrella” that represents this community in which there are several “rain drops” that fall underneath giving the umbrella a reason to exist. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is the one holding the umbrella…

Mother Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a child, she had always known she wanted to become a missionary and to help people in great need. She, as a sickly child, was not accepted into any religious orders that would help her achieve this dream. Determined, she created her own mission and recruited her own sisters.

As an Italian immigrant traveling the world and eventually settling in the U.S., she recognized the importance of disponibilita, which is the willingness to be sent wherever, trusting that it is the will of God to sent there.

The MSCs have since created other “rain drops” that allow others to be a part of the mission of Mother Cabrini.

The Cabrini Mission Corps Missioners are volunteers who commit a year or more to live in solidarity with the impoverished people of the world. They live in community with MSCs and commit themselves to an openness of a growing faith.

Another drop would represent Cabrini Lay Missionaries. The Lay Missioners are “women and men who live their Baptismal commitment as a special call from God… to love and witness the love of the Heart of Jesus, according to the legacy of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.”

Cabrini Companions, like the Lay Missioners, are another way to extend the relationship and mission of Mother Cabrini through a different avenue. These people commit to pray with MSCs, for MSCs, and the mission of MSCs.

All of these droplets of rain beneath the umbrella represent a mission and its many missionary people in all different capacities, living out the word of Mother Cabrini and Christ.

Make any sense to you? Because I think it’s finally making sense to me!

I contacted the MSC Vocation Promotion Coordinator, Nancy Costello, and the Director of Cabrini Mission Corps, Gina Scarpello, hoping that I could create a role for myself to a.) Be a part of this mission in anyway even if only in a smaller capacity, and b.) To gain some experience within the field of marketing.

So far, this experience has been educational in many different ways. For one, I have been able to become educated in the mission that my college stands for. I have been able to network and connect with people who are not only valuable to my growth within the communication field, but valuable in a special way that invites me in to see what it is like to use my degree and my skills to be a part of something greater than myself. For that, I am excited to continue in my journey within the Cabrinian Community, and produce work that reflects just that.

 Stay tuned as I reflect on the projects I have been creating and a special trip coming up!



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A late discovery…

This week at NBC I was able to go out on shoot with 10! Show host, LuAnn Cahn. LuAnn is creating a new segment on the show that’s about first experiences. She is asking viewers to think about something they’ve never had the chance to do and with LuAnn’s help, make it happen.

LuAnn and I headed down to Chestnut Hill where we would be meeting with a woman who is a mom of three and has never been able to decorate a nice cake for any of the special occasions she shares with her family. We arrived at a charming bakery where a sugar artist held a private class for the mom of three.

During the car ride home I was able to get to know LuAnn, a veteran in the industry of over 20 years. She began at NBC as a general assignment reporter and later transitioned to the investigators unit and spent 10 years cracking cases through journalism. Then, she inquired about me.

I have to be honest, after hearing her impressive track record I was very intimidated and almost at a loss of words as to who I am and what I’m about. I gave her a brief background about what school I attend, my major and my experiences with media at Cabrini. Once I began to talk about journalism and my experiences with Loquitur I began to feel more confident, like I knew what I was talking about. I told her that I really enjoyed writing, particularly feature stories because I like to tell people’s stories especially those whose voices aren’t often heard.

Then LuAnn asked, “Kelsey, why are you interning at the 10! Show? Why aren’t you in investigators?”

At NBC, interns who work in the investigators unit are responsible for answering tip reports but also finding some of the news themselves. However, LuAnn described investigators in a way that made it sound right up my alley. She said working in the investigators unit is actually a way of helping people. Not that often do we view news or media as a way of helping a person out.  Sure, we inform people but I don’t think we realize that information and the way it is received can really alleviate many situations both good and bad. People call into investigators all the time about a crisis in the neighborhood and by airing that on the six o’ clock news, we the communicators have the power to raise awareness and perhaps avert the crisis.

After realizing this I was a little disappointed in myself. When I was interviewed for the summer internship, I was asked what department I would like to intern for. I chose 10! Show for shallow reasons like fun, entertainment, and because it seemed like it would be easier going. While it sometimes has been all of these things I do believe I have learned a lot at the show.

With that said, I wish I didn’t just glaze over the other opportunities I could have been a part of at the company.

Lucky for me, LuAnn plans on bringing me over to the investigators unit next week to let me shadow the unit for a day!

My days at NBC are dwindling down to just a few so I am ready to absorb all experiences and lessons that the next few days will bring.

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