I had the pleasure of hosting most of my old Jesuit Volunteer Corps roommates in Milwaukee over the weekend. After doing a year of service together in Syracuse from 2007-2008, we've gotten together annually to catch up and partake in shenanigans.
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps is a Catholic volunteer organizations for young people who want to serve for a year at a non-profit and live in community with other volunteers. The four values of JVC are simple living, spirituality, social justice, and community. The agencies we worked for paid our rent, health insurance, and gave us a $70/month stipend for food and an $85/month stipend for "mad money." My year of doing JVC was one of the hardest, most rewarding, most fun, and most memorable of my life. There was something very special about having this type of adventure right out of college with five other people who were in the same boat as me. It was also pretty special that I met my husband that year. Paul did his year in Hartford, and because all the East Coast houses are so close, it was pretty easy to get to know each other and meet up every few weeks.
The picture above is one of the first I took with my roommates. I think this must have been before going to the great New York state fair.
The picture below is one of the last pictures before we took together in our year. On the East Coast, a Jesuit Volunteer's year ends with a final retreat, and we also had the option of hiking 30 miles along the Appalachian Trail to arrive at our retreat. We all took the hiking option (as you could probably tell from the general sweaty-ness in that picture). A few days later we all said goodbye and started on our next adventures.
The next year we travelled back to Syracuse from all of our new cities. We visited our old house, challenged the new Jesuit Volunteers to drinking games (we were still in our early 20s!), and had the privilege of making new memories together.
The next summer, we all travelled back to Syracuse to visit. We visited the current Jesuit Volunteers and took more timed photos (one of our favorite things to do together). I remember the weekend was a good mix of going out and having down time to talk and visit.
We changed up our reunion routine the next year and met up in Cleveland (a central location for everyone). We ran a 5k together, played corn hole, and did touristy things around the city. It's crazy to look back at this picture and think that Paul and I were engaged at this point - and that all the people in this picture were the ones who saw the beginning of our relationship.
2012 St. Louis
In 2012, we reunited at mine and Paul's wedding in St. Louis. I was so thankful that all my roommates were able to make our wedding - and were able to carry up the gifts (along with Paul's roommates) at our wedding mass. I think this is one of our best pictures together.
The following summer we headed back to New York and spent the weekend at my roommate's parents' cabin. This was JVC living at its finest. We swam, played cards, read books, took naps, hiked, and ate good food. Living on an $85 monthly disposable income really teaches you to appreciate the finer, simple joys in life.
Last summer, most of us were able to travel to Rochester for another wedding. Our roommate Devin had also recently gotten married and had a baby and wasn't able to travel across the county. But she was there in spirit (as you can see from the missing people in the picture).
And just this past weekend, five of the six of us were able to meet up in Milwaukee for our 7th reunion!! This wasn't our best picture together, but it was certainly a fantastic weekend. Paul and I got to play tour guide and take my roommates to all our favorite restaurants, custard shops, and touristy places. We missed our sixth roommate again, but we've got plans to schedule our reunion around her traveling out east sometime next year (when Paul and I will have a baby in tow!).
I'll finish up this post with something my roommate just sent out to us after our reunion finished. It sums up our mutual love for each other - and how special these reunions are to us.
We are lucky to have each other and to be able to do this over the years. While our group has become larger as we have started to marry and have kids we still try our best to see each other. While our lives have changed from what they were when we lived together there is always a comfort and easiness that comes with reunion time. So thank each of you for the effort that goes into making a weekend like this happen each year. You are all special and a little part of me misses what we had in Syracuse.
Aw. Love that JVC Syracuse love.