Building Community at Saint Monica House

Submitted by Saint Monica House on May 30, 2013 - 9:20am
A community conversation with youth in KW

Recently, we held a conversation at St. Monica’s House as part of Tamarack's Community Conversations.  We found this to be a difficult conversation because community is not something we often think about. It is not a term we often use.

 When reflecting on a memorable experience of community, we thought about family gatherings or big community events like fairs where lots of people came together to celebrate.  These were often events that we really looked forward too.  The other key idea was that community is often with people of all different ages.

 Ultimately, though, the biggest community in our life right now is St. Monica’s house itself.  We have all been brought together here for similar reasons.  For those who do not know St. Monica’s House is a supportive home for teenage women who are pregnant or recently had a child.  This place becomes our home for as long as a year.

        

 This community it important to us because it provides:

1)     Support – we are surrounded by support of our peers and those who work with us

2)     Friendship – we become close friends with each other

3)     Education – through this place we get to continue our education while raising our children

4)     Shelter – we receive a home for us and our child that is safe

5)     Food – Great food that we get to eat together

6)     Help – we are all going through a challenging time in our lives, this place provides us the help we need to get through it and enjoy it.

 In St. Monica’s house we are stuck in close quarters with each other.  With a house full of highly hormonal young women this leads to lots of conflict, but I think it also pulls everyone closer together.

 The other question that we really enjoyed was talking about the kind of community we wanted our children to grow up in.  One girl talked about how she wanted a place where her child was loved by everyone.  We want a space where our children are surrounded by proper influences and how ultimately that is within our own control to create.  We also spent time talking about the need for a safety while at the same time the need for space to go and venture, to learn through exploration. 

             

 We then went on a tangent talking about how can we create a place for safe rebellion.  We all have a stage when we rebel against our parents.  This important, but we want our children to still be safe when this happens.  To do this, we talked about creating reasonable boundaries.  To involve our child in creating these boundaries so they feel involved and valued.  Several people mentioned wanting to raise their children in the country where they had space to play and explore while at the same time were kept away from the bad stuff found in the city.

At the end of the discussion we as a group agreed upon the following seven steps we would take to help deepen our sense of community together:

Building Community

1. Be Open-minded

2. Be flexible and respectful

3. Don't judge a book by its cover

4. Do things together

5. Accept people for who they are

6. Treat others the ay you want to be treated

8. Eat food together