Second Year Volunteer Cassie Hartnett Shares Her Story
After a year of relationships, direct service work, and grad school applications, Cassie Hartnett is embarking on another year of LVC. She comes to her second year with a few lessons learned, a deepened sense of community, and a full ride to Union Seminary awaiting her. This is her story:
My first LVC year was a huge growing experience in learning how to live in intentional community and exploring my faith. Being held accountable to my house community was important to me as I struggled to adjust to a new city, my first-year placement at Trinity Safe Place, and many new relationships. We all made mistakes and we were all offered grace, which really brought my house community together and taught me a lot. One housemate taught me a lot about sustainability; another was passionate about anti- racism and unpacking our race privileges; one knew a lot about gender and sexuality. There was so much I didn’t know! I am now more equipped to talk about my experience, and I learned to be quiet and listen when others talk about their experiences.
I came out as queer before my first year of LVC. My second year placement is Reconciling Works, which advocates for the full inclusion of Lutherans of all sexual orientations and gender identities in all aspects of their Church and congregations, is a great place for me to explore my queer identity alongside my Christian identity. I made a lot of connections with people who are doing the same. I can connect with people, communities, and organizations that are moving church forward and starting to make the kinds of changes that I want to continue making in my career.
Like many of my housemates, I was applying to graduate schools during my first LVC year. I applied to Luther Seminary, Yale Divinity School, and Union Theological Seminary in New York. Not only did I get accepted to all three schools, they also each offered me a full-tuition scholarship. Since Union has such a rich history of social justice work, feminism and liberation theology, it seemed like a perfect fit for me after LVC! Although I was confident in applying, I don’t think that my graduate application process would have turned out the same had I not participated in LVC—and my essay titled, “In Defense of Loud Girls,” was certainly not something I would have written before my time in LVC.
One thing I’ve thought a lot about during LVC is the idea of “enough.” On a volunteer stipend, for example, you’re worried about having enough money for food and material resources; or maybe about having enough time and energy for your job and your house community; or maybe about being enough—smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, etc. to be loved and accepted. I was worried about all these things, and yet, in my LVC year I experienced abundance. Sometimes I had little to no time, money, or energy to give, but when I gave what I could, and asked for help when I needed it, I received everything I needed and more—whether that was food, company, support, a listening ear, and a true abundance of grace. I learned to find my spirituality in community, and to see God’s grace and abundance in the people surrounding me and caring for me.
[This article was originally published in LVC’s Fall 2015 Esprit de Corps newsletter]