Bay Area LVCer Eleanor Nolan is working for the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund in Berkeley, California. This photo is Eleanor at a protest event to raise awareness for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Becoming part of the community you serve is a huge component of an LVC volunteer year. Eleanor says: “Since starting my volunteer year, I’ve grown more comfortable with being vulnerable—while I’ve always been open with people, I’ve also never been too far from home and always knew I had someone close by I could depend on.
There is a certain type of vulnerability that comes with moving to a completely new place across the country with only two suitcases filled with stuff from back home. Right off the bat, though, I began to feel a sense of trust in my community—we had a local church stock our house with food, and we had our host congregation have a service and luncheon to welcome our house to the area, for instance. However, it goes so much farther than that—I’ve had so many strangers who have had my back. Whether it’s helping me figure out which way on public transportation to go, or making sure I don’t leave my lunch when I get off the bus for work, there always seems to be people looking out. This is true in an individual sense, but is true on a more communal level as well in Oakland—never before have I been a part of a community that shows up so strongly in the face of injustice, and so fiercely looks out for each other.
Living and participating in a city community that cares so deeply about the people who live in it and fosters its community so well has reminded me that it’s a beautiful thing to be able to really trust in your neighbors and peers because you know they are looking out for you, and I’m learning more every day how to be a trustworthy neighbor and effective ally who will show up for people in the community.”
Eleanor is a graduate of Augustana College – Illinois and is from Northbrook, Illinois. Eleanor lives in Ella Baker House.