Friday, September 16, 2011

Welcome to Chicago!

The following is a reflection by Tori Dice, one of this year's South House Volunteers.

Considering I am not a native Chicagoan, becoming an Amate House Volunteer has presented me with many more new experiences than just volunteering. For one, I am new to Chicago and this first month has given me a wonderful opportunity to explore the city and begin to appreciate my new home! I never realized how diverse and opportunistic the city of Chicago is. It is a gross understatement to say I am excited to be living in this mid-western metropolis. Between the food and the people, there are so many additional aspects of the city I am learning to appreciate. For instance, each of the city's neighborhoods has its own personality, restaurants, and ethnic roots. Another facet of Chicago is its unique sense of architecture. If you are living in Chicago and have not yet taken the architectural boat tour downtown, then you should. It is an absolute must! One side of Chicago that I have not witnessed, and am apprehensive to endure is the city's brutal winters. Growing up in Nashville and going to school in Los Angeles have only presented me with mild winters. I still need to invest in a good pair of gloves and some waterproof boots. Any suggestions of additional warm attire are greatly welcomed!

Aside from the city itself, Amate House has given me the opportunity to live with nine housemates and experience this year as a community. Living with nine other people is interesting to say the least. For one, there is always something to do and someone to do things with. Although many of us have different personalities and living habits, I am taking this chance to appreciate learning from my housemates and growing as an individual through this community. I am quickly noticing that I need to allot myself alone time and go to sleep earlier. While I love hanging out with my housemates, unfortunately many bonding moments go late into the night. This is an aspect of community living that I am still learning to balance. I guess I am fortunate that this is currently the largest problem I am experiencing at home. Everything is a learning experience and I look forward to embracing those opportunities as they come my way the next nine months!

Friday, September 09, 2011

2012-2013 Application now available!

Hi Friends,

Our Application for the 2012-2013 Program Year is now posted on the Amate House website! Follow this link to gain access to the download site.

Our Staff, Volunteers, and Alumni will be visiting several Post-Grad Fairs around the country this fall and winter - visit for more information about upcoming events.

If you have any questions about the Amate House program, feel free to contact Ryan Lents, Program and Recruitment Coordinator, at or 773.376.2445.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

New Beginnings

The following is a reflection written by Katie Kenefick, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

After taking some time to reflect on the past couple of weeks, marking the first weeks of placement at our service sites, I recall the nervous anticipation of the unknown my fellow housemates and I were feeling as we geared up to begin our year of service. Now that the first-day jitters have passed, the initial unknowns have been demystified. Not only have we seen where we will be serving, met our supervisors, and interacted with coworkers, but we’ve started to discover the true meaning behind our work. As time passes, and as we travel out into Chicago to serve every day, the faces of commuters on the train will no longer be strangers to us, the quirky office jokes will become endearing, and we will find comfort in the familiarity of our new routines.

We’ve started the 9-to-5 grind but through the support of our community, belief in our work, and trust in God, we meet the coming months with enthusiasm and energy. At every work site lies an amazing potential to serve and be served, to learn, to grow, and to be challenged. We will be using each of our unique, God-given talents to act as legal aides, translators, mentors, teachers, health care assistants, coaches, and friends to the under-served in Chicago. We have taken a leap of faith and stepped outside of our comfort zones to be challenged as individuals of faith and as members of intentional community. We will share the burdens of those facing injustice, connect with those who go unnoticed, and delight in the simple joys shared by all of humanity.

In Little Village, at the end of the day, tired and wary from the miles we’ve traveled and the sights we’ve seen, we come back together as a community and recall our day’s events. Hearing the passion in the voices of my housemates as they share the stories they’ve heard and the relationships they’ve built provide a space that encourages each and every one of us. The wonderful community Amate House fosters, allows us to meet the coming day with the same excitement to inspire one another and learn from those we serve. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers as we continue this journey.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Looking back at Orientation 2011

The following is a reflection written by Kelley Ambrose, one of this year's North House Volunteers. 

Confession: I am absolutely awful with directions.

Most of my family and friends know this, and I willingly admit it to those who don’t. Last summer, my grandparents (saints that they are) equipped me with a GPS we lovingly named Gertrude. I grew to rely on Gertrude’s robotic British accent to get me from their house to my internship—and everywhere in between. Luckily, I also have a GPS system on my phone. If (God forbid) I need to park a couple of blocks away from my final destination, I can watch myself as a pretty blue dot moving closer and closer until I stumble upon whatever I need to find.

About a month ago, twenty-nine young men and women set their GPS systems to Amate House. Hailing from as far away as L.A., Hawaii, Boston, and Georgia or as close as the western suburbs of the city, we arrived in Chicago and gathered for two weeks of orientation.

That word, orientation, strikes me as I pause to reflect, now almost a month-old “Amatian”. Orientation. Something by which we orient. The process through which we seek direction. For Amate House, it began with the physical. I reside on the north side of Chicago, four blocks west of the lakefront. Even the name of the house—North House—communicates an orientation. As we moved in, we began to seek out our place in our house communities, in the program as a whole, in our neighborhoods and the city itself.

Perhaps at some point during those two weeks we were reminded of the state of our heads and hearts when we found ourselves pointed towards a year of service with Amate: our mental orientation. Flashback to four years ago, it was my freshman year at Boston College and I wanted to be a doctor. I was going to major in Biology, go to a prestigious medical school; I had set my navigation system towards this goal. Through the participation and continual involvement in a service-learning program on campus, my inner compass slowly began to waver, eventually shifting away from medical school and towards the pursuit of a career in social services. Final destination? Unknown.