Where are they now? DC Service Corps alumni joined the FMS family with a commitment to deepening their faith in the Franciscan tradition and working for peace and justice, while developing servant leadership skills. Meet some of the alumni and learn more about the impact of their year with FMS. 

Jump to Featured Stories: Amy Brandt, Nayeli Garcia, Samuel Hardwick, Chase Medelberg, Amanda Saunders

Amy Brandt

DC Service Corps, 2018-2019. FMS Office: Communications Associate

Where are you now?

Communications Coordinator at Olympic Community of Health in Bremerton, WA. Olympic Community of Health is a non-profit that brings together primary care, behavioral health, hospitals, community-based organizations, and tribes to tackle health issues specific to the Olympic region (i.e. opioid crisis, ED utilization, social determinants of health). As the communications coordinator, I lead community-wide campaigns focused on prioritizing health and wellness. 

“FMS provided me with hands on experience in a non-profit setting. My time in DC helped clarify what direction I wanted to head in, pursuing marketing/communications to address local inequities.”

How has FMS shaped your faith?
By integrating Franciscan values into my life, I gained confidence in questioning injustices within the Church and the communities around me.

Hearing from our predecessors, what is one thing you would like to tell the current Casa community?
Lean into the growing pains. Push yourself to try new things and see things from a different perspective. Also, happy hour at San Antonio’s is the best. And Captain Cookie = self-care.

Check out some of Amy’s blog posts. 

Nayeli Garcia

DC Service Corps, 2017-2018. Father McKenna Center: Clothing Closet and Mail Coordinator

Where are you now?

I am currently the Volunteer and Social Media Coordinator at The Father McKenna Center.

How has FMS impacted you, bringing you to where you are now?
FMS gave me the opportunity to take a break from school and from the real world to figure out what I wanted to do next. FMS allowed me to gain experience working outside the community and among a population I had no experience working with (homeless men, individuals experiencing food insecurity, and volunteers of retirement age). I am where I am now by being present with those around me and the relationships I’ve cultivated.

How has FMS shaped your faith?
 I learned so much about everyone’s approach to their faith. It helped me to embrace my style of faith, to not compare myself with others. We have our own versions and approaches on how we connect with God.

“Just go for it! There are many unknowns and that’s a good thing. You will be surprised how much you’ll learn from others and about yourself!”

Check out some of Nayeli’s blog posts. 

Samuel Hardwick

DC Service Corps, 2017-2018. FMS Office: Development Associate

Where are you now?

I am currently a Campus Minister at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, MD. 

How has FMS impacted you, bringing you to where you are now?
It would be hard for me to overestimate how much FMS impacted me. Post-college is a very tumultuous time where many people in all these different areas of my life were telling me what to do and where to go and seemingly everyone has it figured out but I just didn’t. I needed time to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be and more importantly, where God wanted me to go and where God needed me to be. FMS gave me this space to live and to learn more about who God is. I really believe that we need to know who God is first before we can ask who we are and what we are to do. FMS provided this not only through practical means of learning discernment and giving me a chance to see what non-profit work looks like but also through authentic witnesses of faith in Liz Hughes, Meghan Meros, Emily Norton, and the Overseas Lay Missioners, who always inspired me to live authentically and simply. Moreover, living in community allowed me to grow into the person I wanted to be because it was an open and warm space of love and friendship. I’m not sure there is any better place to grow then in a place where love abounds with new friends. 

“FMS pushed me to see where my faith was leading. Was faith going to be a thing I used to help myself or was it going to be something that allowed me to help others? I didn’t know I needed to ask myself that question until I was halfway through my year of service with FMS. That is the beauty of FMS. It isn’t about pushing one thought or another onto someone. It’s all about relationship and coming to questions and answers through authentic conversations and spaces of learning.” 

Hearing from our predecessors, what is one thing you would like to tell the current Casa community?
I would tell the current Casa community to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability or heartache or trouble within community. There is joy and wonder and sorrow in community that comes throughout time there and it ebbs and flows like the seasons. Those moments are when we might see God if our eyes, ears, and hearts are open to God. 

Check out some of Sam’s blog posts. 

Chase Medelberg

DC Service Corps, 2016-2017. Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School: Corporate Work Study Program

Where are you now?

I returned home to the Dallas Fort Worth area after FMS and a few months later I started at Cristo Rey Fort Worth in the Corporate Work Study Program.

How has FMS impacted you?
Without FMS, there is little to no chance I would be where I am now. Prior to FMS, the idea of working in a school was not one I was entertaining. I remember telling Meghan Meros, FMS’ Associate Director, that I strongly preferred not to work in a school, and then getting a phone call in which she asked, “How would you like to work at a school?” To say I enjoyed my experience with FMS and Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School (DBCR) would be an understatement. From that experience I knew that working in a Cristo Rey school was something that I would love to continue doing. After I left DC, my boss at DBCR reached out to my now boss at Cristo Rey Fort Worth and the rest is history.

“Saying yes to as much as you can is really important (as long as you are not stretching yourself too thin). Having that mindset really helped make my year with FMS a great one.”

Hearing from our predecessors, what is one thing you would like to tell the current DCSC volunteers & Lay Missioners?
The one thing I would like to say is to give 100% to this experience. Whether that be in living in an intentional community, your placement site, or whatever it is you want out of this experience, please do not short change yourself by giving less than 100%. There are going to be lots of times where it will not be easy to do so. You may find yourself lacking in culinary skills and not want to cook for 14 people in the Casa. However, I can guarantee you there is a YouTube video that will help you solve your problem!

Reflecting on my time at FMS, I can definitely say that my favorite part was the relationships I made, primarily those with the people with whom I shared the Casa for a year. They are some of my favorite humans on earth and my dearest friends.

Check out some of Chase’s blog posts from his time serving with us. 

Amanda Saunders

DC Service Corps, 2016-2017. FMS Office: Programs Associate

Where are you now?
I am currently the Director of Campus Ministry at Bishop McNamara High School 

How has FMS impacted you, bringing you to where you are now?
If it was not for FMS’ commitment to the larger Franciscan community, I would not have known that a career at Bishop McNamara was even an option. It was through meeting a variety of Franciscan hearted people, specifically those who work at Franciscan Action Network (FAN), that pointed me in this direction. FMS provided me a professional environment to learn what to do and what not to do when running programming and working in an office setting.

“FMS will always hold some of the weirdest and best years of my life and for that I am forever grateful.” 

How has FMS shaped your faith?
I feel like I could write a dissertation about this and it would not begin to explain the profound impact that Franciscanism and community life had on my spirituality. If I had to boil it down to the most important shift that occurred it was that the stories and messages I had been hearing from Jesus for my entire life became real. The messages to love your neighbor as yourself, to wash the feet of the people around you, and to break bread with anyone who comes your way are the messages that I was challenged to put into action every single day. It made my day to day life much harder but in that same stride it made it richer. 

Hearing from our predecessors, what is one thing you would like to tell the current Casa community?
Write as many stories as you can down! I know it is hard to make the time and it may even seem silly in the moment to capture the small things, but it will be so worth it to see the growth and to have those stories for a lifetime. Second, be kind to yourself. Community life can be lifegiving but it also can be draining. That’s okay. It’s okay to feel drained and to have some emotional fatigue. Take time for yourself and don’t be afraid to communicate boundaries with your community members. 

Check out some of Amanda’s blog posts.