I’d Like you to Meet: The Service House

Through the course of the semester and the blog posts so far, I have mentioned living in the cozy little house with 5 other girls who also committed to serve, grow and love each other and our community! So, it’s only fair that I let them share with you about themselves and their experiences in our house so far. It is my pleasure to introduce you to my roomies!

Pictured above from left to right is Anna Rose, Breanna, Kate, Savannah, myself and Ashton.

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Anna Rose

    My name is Anna Rose and I live in the Service House. This semester, I have had the opportunity to work with an organization on campus called Enactus. It is a social entrepreneurship-based organization that helps various non profits come up with the necessary items for a successful business, such as writing a business plan, marketing plan, finding good quality and affordable raw materials, and so on. It has been a great experience and I have been able to work with wonderful people who truly care about investing in the community around them, as well as learning important lessons in the business world.

This house has been such a blessing, and I cannot say that I have one favorite part of it. I think I just love the community the most. I love that it’s comfortable enough for us to just be together doing homework at night, watching a movie, going to lunch, doing crafts, baking or anything else. We share stories, we laugh together, we cry together, and overall it is just a treat to live with such amazing women. Something that I do really love is that I work at the same restaurant as one other roommate, Breanna, which has been an awesome bonding experience, and something that I have come to value a lot.

For fall break this semester, we went to Asheville, North Carolina, and camped on an organic farm. This was probably one of my favorite memories with these girls because it was such an incredible time together to get to know one another and just be together. We got to explore, cook, freeze, run around, learn about the farming life and drive many hours together. It was a trip I will never forget!

Overall, the year in this house so far has been an absolute blast, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Ashton

    I’m Ashton,  and I’m a senior psychology major, interested in studying occupational therapy. My internship is at Renewal House, which is a recovery center for women who have struggled with drug abuse and their children. I am mainly working with the children in both groups in childcare. Every time I go in, there is a new quote on the bulletin board about self-love and forgiveness, and I have learned so much from hearing the women’s stories and their healing journey. I love that Renewal House is so empowering toward women, and I love watching the ways their self-esteem, self-love and self- acceptance are growing– and also watching them be such great moms to their babies.

     My favorite part of the house is that it brought together 5 other girls I probably wouldn’t have lived with–or known, otherwise. It is overwhelming to live with so many people at times, BUT I love being able to walk into someone’s room and lie in their pile of clothes and talk and laugh about nonsense, or walk into the kitchen and see someone baking and bringing our little community together in such a tangible (and yummy) way, or hearing different perspectives and learning more about the world and the way others see it.

    Service and community is important at me because I’m learning that it is such a good base for any relationship. You can serve people in so many ways (you don’t have to make it an internship!) and this breeds community. I do think that service is the basis of community, and I love that this house was founded on both.
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Breanna

    My name is Breanna, I am a junior social work student living in the service house this year. My internship is with the YWCA at the domestic violence shelter as the children’s program intern. My favorite part about my internship is growing close with each of the children during their stay and getting to be a place of stability for them.

Editor’s Note: Since it is finals week and everyone is super busy and stressed, it wasn’t really fair for me to ask my roommates to do my blog post for me. So since Breanna is out of time, I want to add a bit about her myself! Breanna is super passionate about helping victims of human trafficking. As the president of our chapter on campus of the International Justice Mission, Breanna leads students to talk about this issue and host events to raise awareness. She has a heart of gold, and she is even wearing a dress every day this month to spark even more conversation!

Breanna is one of the hardest-working girls I know; she has beautiful hair; she puts up with our morning-person personalities with a smile on her face; and she always has a story to tell. I am so lucky to have gotten to meet her this year and call her my friend!

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Kate

    Hello! I’m Kate Patterson, a junior social work student. My internship is at the Nashville Food Project and I have loved every minute of it!! My role there is the garden intern, but my tasks change daily, from driving to pick up a new queen bee to planting garden beds to teaching kindergarten-fourth graders about healthy eating and gardening.

    My favorite part of the house experience is the rich community. I love doing all sorts of things with these ladies. Some of my favorites have been surprising roomates at work, weekly breakfasts and camping at an organic farm in Asheville, NC. Also, sharing life with these ladies is pretty great. I get so inspired hearing about their internships and dreams and goals for the future.
    My best memory from the house so far is having Julie Hunt and her family over for dinner. We spent the day preparing the house and food together as a community, and then we shared stories and laughs with her family. We topped dinner of with an apple cake that Julie baked and brought! Yumm! It is so fun to invite others into our little community- even if it is just for dinner.

    Service is important to me because it is so enriching to see others needs be provided for. There are so many cool organizations and initiatives that are service-oriented here in Nashville. These places are doing amazing creative work, and it is a pleasure to be able to join in to a tiny part of the work they are doing. Community is important to me because we are called by God to live in community and to love our neighbors. It is so easy in this world, and in my own life, to get caught up in my dreams and what I am doing and forget to think about others. This house has provided the perfect place to be constantly reminded to be intentional about relationships and to be nourished by and to nourish others in the relationship. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of ladies to share this journey with!!

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Savannah

    My name is Savannah Halliday and I am a junior math major currently living in the service house. This year, I’ve been interning with University Ministries as the student coordinator of the into.nashville freshman service program. So far, this role has taught me how much administrative effort it takes to put together such awesome events, and has given me a greater sense of gratitude for all volunteers that work behind-the-scenes to make everyone’s experience enjoyable.

My favorite part of living in the service house community is being surrounded by a diverse group of girls who all share the common goal of serving and improving the world. Service is a great way to follow in Christ’s footsteps and show God’s love to others. Community is important to me because life was not meant to be lived alone, but to be shared and experienced together. I greatly enjoy our weekly breakfasts together, as it combines both of these aspects.

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What We Served: Spiced Hot Cocoa

    Now that it’s getting colder (finally!), we can start to shift our brains from school/work/busy mode to Christmas/family/baking/shopping/lights-seeing/jolly mode. And that, my friends, is the best kind of mode to be in!
    After a chilly day being out-and-about, don’t you just love to come home, snuggle under a blanket and drink some hot cocoa? Of course you do, you’re only human. Well, rather than pop in a packet of Swiss Miss and water you heated up in the microwave, use this fabulous recipe to have yourself some quality hot cocoa. You deserve it.
    I think this year we should focus on intention. Intention is not necessarily “trying harder,” but simply trying to avoid the shortcuts that are only making life quicker, not better.
This is just one place to start 😉 Let me know if you try it out!
The Goods:
Serves 2
  • 2 cups (organic) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar (add more if you have a sweet tooth!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne
For the whipped cream: 
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
The Process:
  1. Combine the milk, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and spices into a medium saucepan. Warm to a simmer.
  2. While the hot cocoa is warming, pour the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer and whip on high speed until stiff peaks are achieved.
  3. Once the cocoa is hot, pour into mug of choice and top with the whipped cream. Enjoy!

Recipe by Megan Forbes of Goldmine

I’d Like You to Meet: Rejoice School of Ballet

Motivated by Christ’s love, Rejoice School of Ballet empowers youth to realize their potential by training, nurturing and celebrating dancers from diverse racial, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. This year Rejoice celebrates its 15th year and more than 1,000 students who have been able to receive an excellent dance education in an environment focused on diversity and Christian formation.

Above is the mission statement and heart of the nonprofit I have had the privilege of volunteering at as a part of my service year internship. I couldn’t be more glad that God led me to Rejoice. Each week I run the music for ballet classes on Monday nights, and I have also been able to work directly with the PR and Marketing coordinator, Jo Ellen Weedman. What a dream! I have learned so much about not only nonprofits and fundraising, but about a true example of a tight-knit community that thrives on relationships, love and encouragement.

Rejoice Headshots 6-2015 Classes Rejoice Photo Shoot 6-2015 IMG_5988275168Patricia Cross had the idea for Rejoice in 1993, feeling called to offer classical training to children who couldn’t afford it, knowing the impact that dance can have on a child’s life. Rejoice offers so much more than just becoming a good dancer. Dance teaches students discipline, self-confidence, a healthy work ethic, exercise and the knowledge that they can excel at whatever they set their mind to.

In 1999, Rejoice School of Ballet was born as a non-profit organization, and in the fall of 2000, 14 students walked in the door to a ballet school that offers excellent training to every student, no matter their ability to pay.

All dancers at Rejoice pay on an income-based sliding scale. Around 80 percent of students pay $17 a month for classes, dancewear and costumes.

Rejoice School of Ballet By the Numbers:

  • 84 percent from low-income families, as defined by federal poverty standards.
  • 61 percent African American or African
  • 28 percent Caucasian
  • 6 percent Bi-racial
  • 5 percent Latino

Jo Ellen, my mentor and mother of 4 girls (2 of whom dance at Rejoice), says that Rejoice has always been important to her family and the community because of the excellent training the studio offers to families who otherwise could not afford it. “I think recently with such terrible news all around the country of racial tension and violence that Rejoice’s mission to create art in a diverse environment is more important than ever,” she said.

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As a part of my volunteer position and internship, I had the honor of assisting with a fundraiser luncheon to educate potential donors about Rejoice’s story. My part was small- just a simple slideshow video that played while guests ate. However, the best part was watching the speakers of the program talk about how Rejoice has impacted their lives and their families.

First, Founder Patricia spoke about her passion for the art of dance and the ministry of providing this art to the community. One of the student’s mothers spoke next about the love and trust she has for Rejoice to drop her babies off at class three times a week. She mentioned the sacrifices she makes to ensure her daughters get the dance experience she was never able to have as a girl, and how Rejoice has made that possible. Her daughters even talk about opening their own studio some day.

American Ballet Certified Faculty Gerald Watson, spoke next about starting dance at the age of 13, and although he has accumulated an impressive dancer’s resume as a choreographer, director and apprentice at the Nashville Ballet, he was called to teach. It is his purpose in life to help his students with their passions and to find their own callings in life. Finally, Remi, the student who will actually be dancing the part of Cinderella in the upcoming show in February, spoke about how through Rejoice, she has gained a confidence she never knew she had, she has felt a love from her teachers and peers she hasn’t known before and how much her faith in God has grown. Aka, Haley cried at that luncheon.

I thought I had already been convinced of how great this small little studio was, but it wasn’t until I heard first-hand testimonies that I was genuinely moved. Trust me when I say, this place is making a difference in the world.

Dance 9 Large 20Today is “Giving Tuesday.” If you are able, consider giving $15 to this important organization for their 15th year! You can donate here.

“Rejoice is such a loving community of people who come from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life. Patricia and her teaching staff have created a rigorous and excellent ballet school that also encourages dancers to take care of themselves and others. They work each day to bring out the greatness that is in every one of our students.” -Jo Ellen Weedman

Check out ways to volunteer, and be sure to mark your calendar for Cinderella, Friday, February 26 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Februrary 27 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, February 28 at 2 p.m.

cinderella save the date

 

What We Served: Thanksgiving Edition- Skillet Apple Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the past week or so my roomies have been attending different “friendsgivings” and letting me tag along. One was a group of social work majors, and the other was a group called Slow Food that focuses on eating food that isn’t “fast food.” Both dinners were pot luck style, much like a family Thanksgiving dinner would be.

I love how pot luck style creates a totally different community vibe than simply being a guest at someone’s house would. You have a role and a purpose, and you feel needed. I’m all for playing hostess and putting on a special night for my loved ones, but I am so thankful that Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to realize that we are needed and that we do have people that need us! Even if it is just our food they want 😉

IMG_3331My roommate brought the best apple pie I have ever had to the social work major dinner, so I just HAD to share it. I’m even baking one myself to bring to my boyfriend’s family’s dinner tonight. It’s THAT GOOD. Here it is:

The Best Cast-Iron-Skillet Apple Pie

Ingredients:

2 lb Granny Smith Apples

2 lb Ambrosia or Braeburn Apples

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

3/4 C. Granulated Sugar

1/2 C. Butter

1 C. Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar

1 Package Refrigerated Pie Crusts

1 Egg White

2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar

Vanilla Ice Cream

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Peel apples, and cut into thick wedges. Toss apples with cinnamon and sugar.
  2. Melt butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat; add brown sugar, and cook, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved (1 to 2 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. Place 1 pie crust in skillet over the butter and brown sugar mixture. Spoon apples over piecrust, and place second pie crust on top of the apples.
  4. Whisk egg white until foamy and brush over top. Sprinkle with the remaining granulated sugar. Cute 4 to 5 slits in the top for steam to escape.
  5. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly, shielding with aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cook for 30 minutes before serving. Top with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

 

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Does grandma do all the cooking, or does your family split up the tasks and come together as a community of potluckers? Let’s discuss!

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Community Spotlight: Q&A with Founder of Flourish Supper Club Bethany Edwards

“Hi my name is Bethany, recent college graduate, relatively clueless about what on earth I’m doing and living the retail dream at Anthropologie.”

-Bethany Edwards, Founder of Flourish Supper Club

When I was first developing the NashNeighbors concept, I was really really hoping I would find a group of people in Nashville who set aside intentional time to build community and dive deeper into relationships with one another. This is something my household is doing, but what I wanted to find was a second, unrelated group. A group to prove that these community dinners are worth doing, worth sharing, worth attending. WELL, ladies and gents, I am pleased to announce that I found Flourish Supper Club! Yes! I stumbled upon an Instagram post from a girl I went to high school with who had attended the very event that I knew had to exist! Lo-and-behold, there IS another group working toward this goal of intentional community. And, I was lucky enough to ask its founder, Bethany Edwards, a few questions about how it got started and what it means to her.

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Q&A with Bethany

NN: What gave you the idea to start Flourish?

BE: The idea for Flourish started once I returned home from a four-month study abroad trip to India. I can hardly explain the amount of change I went through during that time and basically came back a different person which is still overwhelming to me at times when I look back on it. In the past I would’ve looked for things like Flourish to be a part of, but would never have assumed I could start something like this on my own. Basically I said to myself, “You are capable and gifted because of Jesus and you can do this.” I’m sure I had a little pep talk in the mirror with myself as most of us do from time to time.

Social media is a great tool and allowed me to get a feel for people’s interest level, and once I felt like this was something other women would want to be a part of, I just went for it head first! I’m still pretty unsure of my future career plans, but while I was in India I finally admitted to myself that the direction I was going was not one that really got me excited and would be fulfilling for the rest of my life. When graduation is within your reach and you realize you aren’t going to use your degree the way you thought, you freak out a little bit. And your parents do, too. But having Flourish has been such an awesome experience for me so far, as I hope it has been for those involved, and having a space to experiment creatively has been exactly what I’ve needed as I try and figure out what’s next.

Flourish is another creative outlet for me and a time for me to see if design and styling is something I could or would want to do long term.

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As we get older, friends are getting married and getting full time jobs, and it becomes more challenging to find time to spend together. Flourish is that intentional time set aside each month to learn about what is going on in each other’s lives on a deeper level and also a time to make new connections and friendships. Also, women are just incredible, am I right? So I say, Why not celebrate ourselves and other women? Popular culture doesn’t set us up for building each other up, but rather finding ways to tear each other down as a means to feel better about ourselves. I, for one, don’t want to be a part of that. We can be catalysts for positive change and be women who love each other well.

NN: How many dinners have you done? How did they go?

BE: We’ve had five dinners so far; four in Nashville and one in Salem, Oregon. They’ve been INCREDIBLE. It makes my heart so happy to be doing this and provide a space for others girls in the same life boat to find connection, belonging and new friendships. The number of girls has varied each time, but it’s usually around nine to ten. My grandmother is the most darling human being I know and lets me host the dinners at her home. While it was still warm outside, we were able to have dinner outside (which will always be my favorite), but now that it’s getting chilly we’ve just moved it inside to the dining room. Her home is so cozy and welcoming that I honestly can’t imagine a better place. I’m not sure where we’ll go as the group grows but we will figure that out when the time comes!

NN: Where do you get the resources for the dinners?

BE: For the first couple dinners, I and my best friend Emily, took care of all the food, but quickly found that to be a little overwhelming and unkind to our bank accounts. I love hosting and entertaining, and the two of us love to cook, but there is only so much a couple of recent college graduates can do. I’m lucky enough to have a family full of dishware-addicts so I have no shortage of pretty plates and glasses to use for dinner, but it would make me happy to be able to grow my collection to create even better tablescapes. When it comes to food though, we’ve decided to make Flourish Supper Club potluck style so that 1.) We can enjoy the night even more because we aren’t busy cooking all day and using up all of our paychecks, and 2.) Because I think it makes others feel like they are even more so a part of something. Committing to bringing food makes for a more special feel to the evening, I think. Flourish Supper Club is not just for me, it’s for everyone.

flourish 4I would love to partner with some local companies though! I think that further illustrates the desire of bringing this community together and making even more connections, plus as someone just starting out in this area, it would be a major help to be provided with better resources from those who are doing well in their field. Partnerships are typically about marketing and advertising, and since we’re still pretty small, I haven’t felt as confident about reaching out, but I have definitely considered the idea.

NN: Are the dinners open invitations, do you have to register or RSVP or is it mostly a closed group?

BE: Open open open! No closed group here. Obviously the group is for women, as we’re here to celebrate each other and learn from those walking in similar and sometimes not-so-similar walks of life, but any little lady that wants to come is welcome! I usually post a few things on Instagram leading up to the next dinner and send out a couple group texts to those girls I know are planning on coming. If anyone ever reaches out to me on Instagram or through a mutual friend, I make sure to get in contact with them so they can get in on the details of the night. I try to get a solid count at least two days before, but sometime that doesn’t always happen. I like to keep things laid back so it works for me.

NN: Do you have any stories or specific examples of new relationships formed as a result?

BE: Absolutely! This has been the most incredible part about it and what excites me the most. Last month a friend of a friend, whom I’d never met, reached out to me about wanting to come- which of course I was thrilled about. We just messaged back and forth on Instagram, and a couple weeks later there she was at the door with a bottle of wine! She was so kind and lovely, and now the whole group has a new friend. A decent amount of us are either Trevecca students or recent graduates from Trevecca, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone knows each other. It was awesome for me to see two of my close friends who never really connected while in school make plans for a dog park friend date. It makes me so happy to see friends of mine connect.

flourish 2NN: Where do you hope to see Flourish go? Do you have long term plans with it?

BE: Wow, where do I see it going? I mean anything is possible right? I definitely plan on keeping this going long term even if I never have more than ten girls come. It’s been such a special thing for me to host and has been incredibly fulfilling.

 

So, there you have it folks. Doesn’t Flourish sound amazing? I cannot wait to attend one, myself. What do you think? Would you go to these awesome dinners, or maybe even start your own group of friends who commit to diving a little deeper over a nice meal? Let me know in the comments or tag me in your community dinner posts!

Give Flourish a follow on Instagram, and bring your pretty self to dinner!

 

Marina Keegan Had it Right

I’m a senior in college. I’m terrified.

Maybe terrified is the wrong word, but that is what continually comes to mind when I think of the future. I know it will all be ok. I’ll probably get a job I like, I won’t be living on the streets and hey, maybe I’ll become rich and famous. I think what I am more worried about, however, is not necessarily not being able to gain more out of life, but losing what I have now. I like it here, ya know? I like my friends; I like living with six other girls who are willing to make a midnight target run; I like all the crazy-exhausting group texts and I’ll admit to liking the feeling of being terrified, or rather, the anticipation of what is to come. I don’t want to lose the excitement of possibilities. This has been weighing heavy on me with the ever-approaching graduation date. And I assume most other seniors are starting to find this same fear.

So, when I read Marina Keegan’s “The Opposite of Loneliness,” I felt a bit more understood. Keegan was an amazing writer and talented Yale graduate, class of 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. She wrote this piece for a special edition of the News distributed at the class of 2012’s commencement exercises. Keegan died in a car accident five days after graduation. She was 22. Continue reading “Marina Keegan Had it Right”

Community Like Coal

A dear mentor explained a concept of ‘community’ that she read in a book by a wise man, and I cannot get past it: coal. It goes like this: Many people would assume that in order to heat a house with hot coals, the best method would be to place one coal under each room. But, this would be completely ineffective, for a coal by itself has no power to heat an entire room. Rather, if one were to place a whole pile of hot coals under the center of the house, the house would feel its warmth into the depths of every room. So, why do we as humans, friends, servants, workers… why do we try to meet the needs of the world by ourselves? We are being ineffective. When we join together, as a heaping pile of warmth (if you will), we have much more power to take on the threat of the cold, the burdens, the needs of the ones we love.

So, let me tell you about the service house, where I am spending my year. A house that feels the truest warmth of these “hot coals” in every nook and cranny. It’s a little, old gray building owned by Belmont University, with a concept inspired by Mission Year. In place of spending hours and hours working to make ends meet, the six girls that live in the service house spend simply ten hours a week out in the community, serving, in place of rent. If money were no object, why would you waste time bussing tables or restocking shelves when you could be developing meaningful connections with the ones who keep the city’s community thriving. Making a difference. In addition to the service internships we each take part in every week, we make it a point to spend time together. We will be going through several books together this year, with said mentor, and we take turns pairing off and making the rest of the house breakfast every Wednesday morning. And let me just say, we have NOT resorted to a quick roundup of cereal and toast.. these girls have gone ALL OUT to make this something special. (I will be posting a lot of the recipes under the “what we served” category!) But back to the point. The service house is not an excuse to have free housing (although that is definitely an added bonus), but rather an opportunity to have a year that counts. I am only a few months in and have already felt the love and support of these dear friends – having been able to get to know them, see their hearts, and share the chore of the daily dish pile up. But the thing I would like to express is that anyone can find this kind of community, whether they make it a point to spend a weekly meal with their household, or finding some organization in the city where they feel they belong. I hope through this blog you can be inspired to find the ones that give you the added warmth to heat the cold corners of your house. You don’t have to do it alone.

From Mission Year: “We practice living a life as Jesus lived it. We follow Christ’s command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”