Community 101

Hope I didn't get ya'lls hopes up too high, this is not a post about the tv show. Granted it's a hilarious show. Maybe one day I will write a blog about it...

Anyway, I'm really going to try and pull out all the stops on this blog for my last 6 weeks as a YAV. So instead of vanilla updates, I'm going to actually have some kind of coherence on here. Hopefully.


Some how, throughout the year, I have managed to accumulate a whole score. A lot of them over lap in different ways. All of them are very unique and all of them have been so influential in my life here in New Orleans.

New Orleans YAVs

So, this one is kind of a given. But I'll give you a quick run down. There are currently 7 other YAVs serving in New Orleans. I make number 8. We all live together. We all participate in house meetings.We all share a food budget. We all do community service together once a month. At this point in the year it's safe to say that we all know everyone's quirks, good and bad, and how to live with each other. None of us knew each other before we moved to New Orleans, and now I probably know them better than just about anyone else in my life. Then again, that's what happens when 4 of your share one bathroom haha
All of us together

Jess and light up Jesus

Colleen, Alyssa and myself

The Pappas Family

This probably goes without saying, but these people have helped me stay sane this year. They have supported and loved me. It's great. I love my family. Not only did they come to me for Thanksgiving, they also came for the YAV silent auction. 

My brother and I really love each other.

Mom, Dad, Me, Lilly and Daniel

Me, Lilly, Daniel and my cousin Matt.

throwing it all the way back to Australia

The Brubakers

So Layne is our site coordinator. She is the leader of a lot of activities that I listed above, but she doesn't live in the house (obviously) so she gets her own little special community slot. Well, both the Brubakers do. I worked with Crawford for the first 2/3 of my YAV year. I've also gotten to take their dog on playdates (seriously, what an awesome dog. I loooooove her the most).Aside from leading our meetings and doing the community activities with us, Layne also sits down for 1-on-1s every month with every YAV in the house. I would argue she actually knows all of us the best. 
Layne eagerly participating in an Anna Leigh sandwich on YAV retreat

Crawford and some youth playing games in the community garden

Justice around Mardi Gras, still in the teething phase

Justice a couple of weeks ago, officially out of the chewing phase and
now into the jumping phase. She's growing up so fast!

Beinville Family

Valentina and Emily are both tied very closely to the Presbyterian church (Valentina was a YAV last year, Emily's parents are Presbyterian pastors and she grew up in a Presbyterian church in Dallas). What can I say? These two love me so much I have the spare key to their house (or maybe it's because they got tired of having to let me in and out...). Valentina and I usually get together on Monday to watch whatever show is in season (Girls, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones was the most recent one). Sometimes we cook. Some Thursdays we go to the gym at the same time (gotta keep each other motivated!) than cook dinner afterwards. Emily is the queen of busy but about half of the time she'll drop in and watch an episode with us (well, actually she watched pretty much all of Game of Thrones) or join in on dinner. In fact, just this past Friday the three of us watched Bridesmaids and ate ice cream together. It was both delicious and hilarious.
Me and Valentina

Selfie with Justice

Emily was also there, we just cut her out of the first selfie. Teeheehee.


Lakeview Church

While I work at Lakeview right now, they are one of my employers, I can say that I have grown to love the Lakeview community so much that I plan to continue attending even as my work there comes to an end. What a great group of people! Not only does my host family attend Lakeview, the pastor and his family are pretty amazing. Lakeview has become a congregation that I am very fond of. The size is just right for me. The people are great. Oh, and the food offered after the service is primo (can you say pigs in a blanket? every Sunday?!).

Barrett, the pastor at Lakeview, and his son Tucker at the crawfish boil

Lakeview people know how to have a good time!

Seriously, all of you should visit for this crawfish boil

Phoebe, one of the girls I work with at Lakeview.
Talk about an adorable nugget!

The Kates

At the beginning of the YAV year we were told we would have host families for the year. I was blessed with this wonderful family, the Kates. Amy and Andy have two kids, Maggie (she's heading into her sophomore year of high school) and Sam (he's heading into 7th grade). I love spending time with them. Amy and I got to know each other at yoga for beginners (me being the beginner, Amy is a pro at that whole yoga thing). I've also attended many meals over at the Kates house. They live walking distance from the YAV house, so it's easy to drop by. They had me over for Easter lunch even though I had a horrible, highly contagious, skin infection. Talk about love.

Sam and his crawfish, Cartman

Me and Amy

I can't tell which cat this is, but she belongs to the Kates!

Another one of me and Amy.

Project Homecoming

Project Homecoming is one of my site placements for the year. What can I say? We work hard so we can play hard too. Most of the Americorps I don't see that often, they are usually on  site doing construction stuff, while I'm at the office. That being said, they are always so welcoming and we do lots of socializing together. Also, I have this great supervisor named Kelly who is not only a supervisor of my job, but also of my life. I can always count of her for support and a listening ear. I can't wait to work with her part time in the fall. We have become a pretty killer team this year.

Americrop service day with Evan, Elise, Jon and Anna Leigh

Never pass up an opportunity to model

BIrthday celebration

I learned how to play stump from Project Homecoming staff, because
 of course construction guys like games where you throw a hammer.

Kelly and her friend the crawfish.

Grace Presbytery

My home presbytery has continually supported me throughout the year. In big and small ways. First, Grace helped covered a part of the expenses for my year. There have also been groups that have come down for mission trips. I've been able to link up with a couple and I'll see a couple more groups before the summer is out. It's always nice to see some familiar faces and gush about this great city I have come to love. My home presbytery has also been so supportive in my life post YAV. Many of them have offered their support and guidance as I begin my year working for the presbytery which is great. I'm feeling the love.

St. Barnabas was in town for a mission trip. I got to meet up with them
for beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde. It's always awesome to see people back from Texas.

I also got to go home and be a small group leader at SHYC.
See small group member, Weave, trash compacting.

Presbyterian love is an everlasting love. Obvi.

Hands in Clay 

Now this community holds a very special place in my heart. I have about 6 years of experience in ceramics, so when I saw flyers for a class I decided to get it a shot. Boy am I glad I have done that. I take a class at Hands-In-Clay on Magazine street. The class is a wonderful rag tag group of people with a million different view and personalities, united by the love of creating things with clay. Just to give you an idea, my first class all of the women who were taking it went around and shared stories about how they gave their kids the sex talk. As I was leaving someone said "Well Jacqi (that's the teacher), I think we may have scared her off." Except not! I have been taking the class since Thanksgiving time and it's the best investment of my time and money. I have gotten to meet some really great people who I would never have crossed paths with under any other circumstance. Even when I'm having a bad class where everything is lumpy and none of the clay will get centered, I still come out of the class feeling better. I knew I was official when I got this fancy name tag…

Aforementioned name tag.

The Kenters

When I moved to New Orleans Alexander told me he had family down here. At the time it seemed like a long shot that I would actually ever meet Julie and Ryan. However, at Alexander's sister's wedding I did get to meet Ryan and Julie. Julie was a swimmer at SMU, many years after my parents, but knew a lot of the people my parents swam with. Most of them were Julie's coaches in some capacity. Also, when I told her about my dad she said, "Oh yeah, he was the lawyer most of the team went to." So Dad, your legacy abides. Way to keep those swimmers out of too much trouble. Anyway, Julie and Ryan have graciously let me into their lives. Not only have I gotten to babysit for them, they've let me house sit and let Alexander stay at their place when he comes to visit (which, let me tell you, is a life saver. The YAV house is crowded and it's hard to fit guests in our little space for anything more than a couple of days). Julie and Ryan have both helped me get to know the city of New Orleans. Whether it's festival suggestions, places to go eat, or the best Mardi Gras parade spot, they are chalk full of suggestions. 
Alexander doing ladder duty with his cousins.

A glimpse into a typical evening with Reese and Caroline.

YAV Alumni

Well I don't actually have a picture with Lauren (boo, we need to fix that). Lauren has also been a great support this year. I've known Lauren since I was in middle school. She served as a YAV in New Orleans, and she understands the highs and lows of being a YAV. It's great to go to her house, hang out with her and the dogs and talk YAV things with someone how really knows how it goes. There are actually a lot of YAVA in the Nola area, but Lauren is the one I talk to the most. And she's the one that convinced me to come to New Orleans. And also the person who convinced me to look into YAV in the first place. So she's been pretty formative in my experience.

The 504

Oh New Orleans, you've got me. I'm sticking around. 

I love New Orleans. It's such a cool city that defies pretty much all the norms of living in a city. Whether it's the open container policy, the way everyone manages to be 15 minutes late, or the way people manage to pull of the best parties at the last minute, this city is awesome. I love all the good and the bad. I look forward to getting to know it even better in the fall when I start my next round of things here in Nola.
Artist market on Frenchmen

Who needs street signs when you can just mark the actual sidewalks?

Marie Leveaux's grave

Again. the sidewalk here is pretty great. 
Spring time showers bring May flowers? The blossoms here are amazing.

Garden district, home to the pretties houses in the world.

A particularly colorful water meter cover.

Mardi Gras swag.
Phew, that was quite a lot. I hope this gives you an idea of all the ways I stay involved in the city of New Orleans. It's actually awesome to have so many different communities and ways to interacts with such a great city. If you ever come visit I'd be more than happy to give you a sneak peek into some of these awesome groups I've become a part of.



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