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Designing My Ministry of Presence


Editor’s note: Through his ministry at Food & Friends, DC Service Corps volunteer Jarrett Murano both designs communications materials and makes food deliveries of medically-tailored groceries to clients who live with life-challenging illnesses.  He views both parts of his ministry as accompaniment.

The holiday season is always a great time to reflect. There’s something about not being able to get outside due to the cold that makes you sit upright and let the thoughts pool up. For me, this came in the form of flyer designing. As we entered December, I wanted to make some holiday related Food & Friends media. I decided that I really should plan out how I want to approach this project, so I used a strategy from Designer Stefan Sagmeister. I got this from a virtual seminar he was a part of. He said that the one method he uses to great success is to exhaustively mind map. In short, write the main imagery/feelings/ideas/etc. in the center of a page. Then, connect words to the central idea that have some connection. A sort of flow chart, if you will. The idea is to make as many connections as possible, so you have a wide path of ideas to sift through. So that’s what I did for this project. I made three maps: one for Food & Friends, one for the Holiday Spirit, and one specifically for Christmas. I started just connecting any words that I thought were even remotely related.

Eventually, I started to come across some themes between the 3 different maps. The most prevalent (and the one I want to discuss) is accompaniment. People say the holidays are the giving seasons, and accompaniment for me means that I give myself just to be present. I visit people at their homes when I do food deliveries and I treat it like going home to someone you’re well acquainted with. I met with a lady this past Thursday that I just sat with and listened to her stories. She told me about her diagnosis, her kids, and the apartment. I gave her my time to listen. I’ve had many more experiences like this one through Food & Friends. I imagine I will continue to have them, even when I move from place to place after my time with Food & Friends is finished.

I also try to add this to my graphic design projects for work. One consideration I give to the things I make is, “Can someone hang this on their wall? When someone gets this, will they feel that someone made this, or just got it out of a drawer and put it in the mail?” Design, to me, is still accompaniment. The focus to create is not just limited to the output or the deadline. I’m currently working on postcards for the client services and nutrition departments, and that is a criteria of mine. I want people to feel like they’re not just getting a piece of junk mail. I hope that when my work does go out to the clients, that they feel that people care about them and what they’re going through.  The postcards are meant to be check-in letters, so we can get in contact with them even if they have a discontinued phone number.  It’s also my vision to have the cards be a sort of visitation: Food & Friends is there for them, not just to have a meeting.

Question for reflection: What regular task in your life could you view as accompaniment?

Jarrett Murano is a recent graduate of the University of Lynchburg with a degree in Graphic Design. His ministry site is Food and Friends, an organization that delivers healthy meals and groceries to individuals with chronic illnesses. When he’s not in the office, he enjoys gardening around the house.