Hello, it's barely still Friday, but I'm going to squeak on in and introduce you to a dear friend of mine. Meet Amy. She and I were introduced through a friend of hers. You see,I was reading this awesome book called Soul Graffiti, when Michael and I took our first vacation to San Francisco after we had become parents. It was there that we met the author of that book, Mark. Mark and his wife had us over and we shared a wonderful discussion on life. A really memorable one. A few months after that trip I got an email from Mark, saying that one of his dear friends who had been a part of his intentional community in San Francisco was moving to Kansas City from Haiti and we should meet. Amy was that friend.
She is the kind who will hang out with our family no matter what we've got going on. She is a Loyal Lucy and a generous friend. She visited me several times in the hospital when I was on bed rest. She was recently at the hospital all night with Fields and I. During our holiday homes tour prep she was over several nights decorating. When she comes over she'll read a book with the kids, help cook dinner, or just be with us whatever we're doing. We love Amy. She is a good friend. She answered a few questions below...
How old are you?
- 30 years old. Though I routinely get carded. Thanks Mom&Dad!
Can you tell us what jobs you've done in San Francisco and what your job is now?
- Are you sure you really want to hear all that? When living in San Francisco, I was a bit of a vagabond as far as employment. That, and the fact that you almost have to work 2 jobs to afford that lovely city! (sigh) I do miss it though. So, let's see...
My first job in the city was working as a nanny with 2 autistic kids. Through this position I was exposed to a lot of fascinating & innovative forms of therapy. Later I was a social worker with Meals On Wheels of San Francisco. I visited homebound seniors to assess their health & safety, providing in-home services when necessary. I left that job & social-worky kind of stuff to go full-time with ReImagine – a center for integral Christian practice. At that time, there was just a small collective of us, 15 people or so, all working together to flesh out a life that connected our deepest held beliefs with our everyday routines. A lot has changed with ReImagine since that time, having evolved into something more accessible to a larger audience. But I still cherish those memories from the early days of figuring it out, & hold those experiences & people near to my heart.
I left ReImagine to return to work with those on the margins – beginning in my own neighborhood. I lived in the Mission district, which is a beautiful vibrant part of the city, filled with public murals, hipsters, local food & galleries, & a prevalent culture & population of immigrants from Central & South America. At the Tenderloin Community School, I worked with the Bay Area Women’s & Children’s Center to pilot an exercise & conflict resolution class. When school let out in the afternoon, I’d bike across town to Horace Mann middle school & teach an after-school health & cooking class. At both of these schools, the student body consisted mostly of immigrant youth, newly arrived or 1st generation. My students & their life experiences were a constant source of education, & left me with many a story to tell. I quit these jobs to work in Haiti for the summer, & upon return, wanted a job that dialed down the intensity a bit. So I became a barista, worked at a Pilates studio, & on Sunday nights worked at the best dive bar Ever. Shortly thereafter, I left San Francisco & CA…and road-tripped it to KCMO. (what?!!) I now work at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic as a medical youth case manager, helping young people navigate HIV & develop into independent adults. I really love it. The work is challenging, my clients are inspiring, & I am proud to partner with them in their journey.
What is growing in your garden right now?
- Confession: Kristyn asked me this question back when things were still growing in people’s garden. So get in your go-back machine & pretend it’s ice-free, warm & sunny…and there’s my garden! You’ll notice an abundance of kale in one bed – it’s my favorite food! Last year my sister roped me into planting 10 tomato plants, which turned out to be a bit…tangly so I took it easy this year & only planted kale, swiss chard & brussels sprouts. Turns out some of the heirlooms from last year had scattered their seeds – so 3 tomato plants surprisingly popped up! A welcome (& manageable) addition.
You've lived out of the country, yes? Where did you live and what were you doing there?
I first went to Haiti over 4 years ago. I was actually planning a trip to Sudan that fell through, so a co-worker suggested I contact a journalist friend of hers in Port-au-Prince. I was on a plane 2 weeks later & knew next to nothing about the country. By the end of my time there, I was educated & politicized through firsthand experiences, having lived & worked beside members of a social movement called SODA. SODA defined itself as “a decentralized network of grassroots groups based in poor communities in Haiti that are dedicated to promoting voluntary and cooperative ways of organizing,” & organize we did.
I was there to help train teachers, as members had started a free school to ensure their neighbors & children would receive an education. In addition to teaching, I partnered with youth to build a community center, played soccer, learned about the chicken project, & traveled to the Northern city of Cap Haitien. It was there that I made a friend who would bring me back to Haiti in a more permanent capacity. After the earthquake in 2010, this friend asked me to move to Port-au-Prince to open an extension office to assist in recovery efforts. Naturally, I took her up on the offer. Sasha & Nick welcomed me into the work of S.O.I.L. with open arms, & for the next 6 months we joined forces with OXFAM GB to pilot composting toilets in displacement camps – a new technology as far as sanitation in an emergency setting.
In a nutshell, I helped build composting toilets & turn poop into nutrient rich soil. I could go on & on about my experiences there, but I’ll instead direct you to the website, where you can see the fruit of 2 years’ labor as SOIL provides soil to Haitian farmers! This is an organization to believe in - & SUPPORT! - for the work is honest & needed, providing jobs to Haitians in country. I think of Haiti & the SOIL team on the daily & long to return. Once my Kreyol is up to par again – I will. :)