by Christopher Goodlof
Giving of yourself for the benefit of others is quite possibly the most rewarding thing a person can do with their time on Earth. No one benefits from a wholly isolated, insular life devoid of giving back. Whether a person is religious or not, helping others can be one of the most positive life choices that one can make.
Through ESC fellowships, young adults are brought together for one year of service to a particular community.
One such program is Life Together, a fellowship coordinated by Kelsey Rice Bogdan, also an alum of the program. Life Together sponsors two yearlong fellowships in the Greater Boston Area with the clear mission of helping the community through faith and intentional living.
“There’s an opportunity to serve,” said Bogdan, “to give of yourself, and that’s part of the transformation is to be serving in communities where you might not go on your own.
But why should young adults serve with the ESC?
“Every day you have opportunities to challenge yourself and be transformed,” said Bogdan, “to learn and to grow in a place where you will be loved and cared for and held, but also pushed.”
The program’s potential for both community and personal growth is immeasurable. By placing fellows in communities in need of help, fellows not only find themselves living in and dealing with the community directly, but also confronting many subjects which they may have stayed away from.
“I think that’s really an invaluable gift,” said Bogdan. “[In ordinary life], if something’s uncomfortable for you or someone is uncomfortable to you, you can ‘peace-out’ on it. Part of coming to spaces like ours and being in these communities is to say, ‘I’m going to stay with it when it’s uncomfortable for me.’”
Living in the community they’re serving, fellows take on a number of tasks and face head-on some of the tougher subjects facing our nation like racism, white supremacy, and social justice. Fellows don’t just come away having helped a community, but also having learned about it firsthand in a way they never would have on their own.
“It’s really hard work, said Bogdan. “I tell people Life Together is the hardest organization I have ever worked for. There’s no organization who’s made as deep of an impact on who I am either.
“People who’ve been through it know that it has made a difference in who they are and how they are in the world.”
Apart from service, Life Together and ESC stress the importance of intentional living. Fellows live together and actively pursue a life of service, all the while setting ground rules for living together as a like-minded community.
“It has the power to change your life,” said Bogdan.
For young adults, an ESC fellowship will shape them into the community leaders they’ll go on to be. Living and learning in a community outside one’s own is a remarkable way to grow while helping others, living with intention, and promoting faith.
“The potential is there for someone coming into these programs to find hope, said Bogdan, “to find liberation, to find themselves. You can’t put a price on that.”