Monday, June 27, 2016

A Space for Stories

After a late flight back the night before from a training with an LSA member in North Carolina, I felt a bit groggy as I entered the Falls Church, Virginia office of LSA member Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA). Housed in an old Lutheran church, this location manages adoption and refugee and immigrant services.
I was there to volunteer with LSA’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Tania Hernandez-Andersen, interns Nura Zaki and Danielle Steinwart of the Valparaiso University CAPS Fellows Program, and Member Engagement Fellow Natalie Goodnow of Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Preparing for the Firsts of Many

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?).

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Finding My Destination

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.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

In the Service of our Nation

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?

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

What Is the Value of the LSA Annual Conference?

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.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

American Families: State of the Working Class: Family Policy and Child Well-Being

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.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Encouraging Candidates to Address Disability Concerns

The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a program of AAPD, is proud to count Lutheran Services in America among its members. Together we work to mobilize the religious community to take action on disability policy with Congress, the President and Administration, and society at large. Currently we're mobilizing people of faith across America to sign a letter encouraging candidates to address disability concerns in their campaigns.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lenten Season Reminds us to Reflect, Renew, Recommit

As we reflect on the season of Lent, I'm reminded of what a special time this is for the Christian world. I am grateful for this time for reflection, renewal and repentance as we prepare for the joyous arrival of Easter. But this can also be a time to think about how we can recommit ourselves. Recommit ourselves to our faith, to our families, and to the missions that fulfill us.
As a nationwide network of Lutheran social ministry organizations, we walk alongside our neighbors every day as we answer the call to live out our faith in service to others. I ask you to pray during this Lenten season for the people we serve – the homeless, refugees, people leaving prison, children in the foster care system, families in crisis, communities recovering from disaster, persons with disabilities, seniors without strong support systems – we pray that we can help them lead lives of dignity, independence and abundance.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

LSA DN Winter Meeting Reflection

To be at the table and to be talked about at a table are two very different things. I attended the Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) meeting in Carefree, Arizona last month. I have served in a number of leadership positions related to disability ministry for the ELCA. My experience there had proven to be some of the most inclusive environments I have ever encountered. When I accepted the invitation for this meeting, I expected to enter a group that had a long-standing history of representatives with disabilities, similar to my experience with the ELCA. Instead, I found a group of administrative leaders gathering regularly to talk about us without us.

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