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Preble Street JV

Committed To: Preble Street

During Erin Olivia Buckley’s discernment process, Erin was vocal about wanting to serve an organization with a focus on combating food insecurity. After intentional conversations between Erin, Jesuit Volunteer Corps and its non-profit agency partner, a final agreement was made–Preble Street was just the right placement site for Erin!

Jesuit Volunteer
Saint Michael's College
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ House
Serving at Preble Street in Portland, ME
“Slower, slower. You will crack the edges if you do it that fast.” So concentrated on making the perfect little corn tortilla, I didn’t register the Guatemalan woman in the room whispering her admonishments to me. I watched as my tortilla started to crinkle beneath my hands, and then balled up the small piece of dough to start over. The woman came over, having witnessed my frustration, and took it from my hands. “I have a lot of practice,” she said as she flipped the dough deftly between her palms to create the perfect circle. “I can do it fast. You must be slow. You must learn.”

I was standing in a small concrete building in San Jorge, Guatemala. I was there for a service trip, and we were helping to prepare a meal for the elderly indigenous Mayan community that lived in town. For many of the elders, the meals we would be serving them during the weekdays were their only source of steady, reliable food.

Jesuit Volunteer Erin Buckley poses with co-worker during a food delivery 

Experiences such as this one in Guatemala gave me a deep compassion and commitment to food insecurity as a social justice issue. This social justice issue is the one that I put at the forefront of my discernment process with JVC. I insured that I was vocal about my view of food as much more than nourishment for our bodies. Food preserves culture, health, and it preserves dignity.

My passion for recognizing and mitigating food insecurity has led me to a year of service with my placement at Preble Street in Portland, Maine. At Preble Street I will be the Emergency Food Staff position, working mainly in the kitchen that serves low-income families and individuals in the greater Portland area. I am excited to work with an organization that partners healthy food with a community atmosphere. The organization highlights the best aspects of what food can be and mirrors the community and care I witnessed in Guatemala.

What I am looking forward to most is to do the measured, deliberate work of service in the name of promoting food security. I look forward to serving and sharing meals with the clients who come to Preble Street, and doing my best to ensure they have access to healthy food. As I prepare for my year of service ahead I think back to the words of the woman I met in Guatemala. “You must be slow. You must learn,” she whispered. I will move through my year of service one plate at a time, one shared meal at a time. I feel in many ways that this is the best way in which we can end food insecurity.

Are you looking for a community that’s committed to a social justice issue you’re passionate about? Have you considering applying for a placement site through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps–learn more by clicking the button below.

In a culture that values what people have over what they give, JVC is an opportunity to commit to the dignity and well being of others and let faith ignite in action.