This week, Georgetown Ministry Center said a reluctant farewell to its Volunteer Coordinator, Melissa Bernard.
Melissa served as the Volunteer Coordinator at GMC for the past year as part of her commitment to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), an organization whose mission is to engage its faith-committed volunteers in vital service within poor communities. After completing her undergraduate degree at Boston College in 2016 – a school she chose largely in part for its devotion to service and social justice – Melissa felt she wasn’t done growing in her faith with other young folks and wanted to continue to devote herself to the service work she had begun in school. “I really discovered a lot of what it meant to be spiritual to me at Boston College and wanted to continue to do that. I didn’t feel ‘done’ with a lot of the work I was doing,” she said.
In her placement through JVC, Melissa’s duties included working for the Georgetown University Campus Ministry and Center for Social Justice where she was responsible for coordinating homeless outreach programs, including scheduling volunteers for GMC and the hypothermia outreach program in the winter. She also played a huge role in organizing GMC’s 2016 5k Fundraiser, a task that she says, while challenging, was one of the highlights of her year. “I’d never done anything like that,” she said of planning the race. “I wanted it to be a really spectacular event for all involved and to hit our fundraising goals. Getting to work with Sarah (GMC’s Development Manager), churches in the area, so many community members and Georgetown students to make that happen – it was stressful at times but really worth it.”
Melissa goes on to begin a new job at Georgetown University and said she will miss the relationships she formed with guests at GMC. Prior to this experience, while she had served the homeless community before in different capacities, such as volunteering at soup kitchens, she said she “never really sat down with folks experiencing homelessness and listened to how difficult it is for them. I don’t think my year would have been as fulfilling if I didn’t have the chance to meet so many of our guests and form relationships and hear their struggles and their joys.”
We are grateful to Melissa for her many contributions over the past year and we wish her the very best in her new role at Georgetown University. From everyone at GMC, thank you, Melissa – you will be missed!