This week marks my fourth week living and interning in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Each day begins with me walking wide-eyed up Capitol Hill as government buildings and monuments peep through the trees on my daily commute. I’m participating in a fellowship where I live and work in intentional community. Being the first of my suitemates to arrive in the city set in motion a series of ‘firsts’; my first Metro ride, first wrong stop on the way home (not all Metro lines are created equal), first to realize our door can lock on its own (it’s not a loss if you learn?) and my first fire alarm scare (if it’s not right when you’re ready for bed, did it really happen?).
I remember there was no air conditioning on the metro car as Nura and I squeezed into it on my first day of work. The air was stuffy and hot, as if it all had already been breathed in, and as the doors shut and we pulled away from the bustling Rosslyn station, a morning quiet fell over the packed car. I’ve always loved public transportation, especially metro systems. I don’t know if it’s the maps marking how the lines overlap and run together, splayed and pumping through the city like a great, colorful heart. More likely it’s this idea that crammed in this metro car are men and women from many walks of life, with unique goals and passions, with different careers, from diverse political, spiritual, and ethnic backgrounds. Crammed into this metro car are people who would never otherwise interact with those four inches from them, and here we are, all together for a few moments, filling the same space, holding the same rails, going in the same direction. I think there’s something beautiful to that, even without air conditioning.
My whole life I’ve been encouraged towards public service. “Always strive to be useful,” my mother told me growing up. “Ask what you can do,” urges my graduate school. Be “in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations,” my undergraduate institution charged students. Three years ago, when I graduated from college, I realized my vocation was public service, but I didn’t know yet in what capacity. Public service can take on a myriad of forms. Now, halfway through my master’s program in public policy, I find myself a neighbor to the Supreme Court in the LSA office. My passion, I have discovered, is for children and families, and what better place to serve and support them than LSA?
When people ask what I do, I usually respond, “I work in government relations for a nonprofit organization.”
Right away I’m telling the person I am speaking with what my organization does not do.
No other industry says what it is not. Where Mosaic falls under the Internal Revenue Code does not define our organization’s mission.
What is the value of the LSA Annual Conference? It’s a question we ask ourselves at LSA in the wintery months as the LSA staff focuses on finalizing the details of an event that brings together Lutheran social ministry organizations from across the country. These are the finishing touches on an activity that actually starts many years in advance. The dedicated marketing team scopes out a place for the conference and negotiates a venue years in advance. Twelve months out we begin the planning in earnest. An advisory team is formed of staff and LSA members; plenary speaker and session profiles are drafted; and connections are made. The months move on as we craft and refine a program that we hope resonates with attendees.
The Bethesda College of Applied Learning is a unique, two-year post-secondary certificate program, the result of an innovative partnership with Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) and Bethesda Lutheran Communities that helps adults with intellectual, developmental and other complex disabilities realize their dream of receiving a college education.
In honor of Older Americans month, I wanted to share some little-known facts about Lutheran social ministry and the many ways in which the lives of older adults in the United States are touched by social ministry organizations.
On May 5-6, I had the unique opportunity to represent Lutheran Services in America at the Climate Action 2016 summit in Washington, DC. The summit was a two-day event designed to drive high-level engagement with global leaders addressing how to deliver on climate commitments and how we can embed changes across the globe in government, key sectors and among the general population. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the gathering by proclaiming, "Together we can build the world we want."
Two years ago we laid out a new vision for our network, and we're seeing that vision realized more and more each year. Today, we are stronger and more connected, working together to innovate and transform lives. The reason we can do this – and what sets us apart as a network – is our common mission: our Lutheran legacy of caring for our neighbors that reaches back more than 150 years, and, most of all, our shared values. We have our North Star.
In February I attended a forum with a forum with some of the nation’s leading experts on family policy and child well-being. This was my second hill forum as an intern for Lutheran Services in America. The event was sponsored by The American Academy of Political and Social Science and The Annie E. Casey Foundation. The American Academy of Political and Social Science is one of the nation’s oldest learning societies, and is dedicated to the use of social science to address important social problems. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social, and health outcomes. Their work strengthens families, builds stronger communities, and ensures access to opportunity that children need to succeed.