Interning at I Grow Chicago for the past four months has brought me a sense of belonging since I have come to Chicago. I moved to Chicago at the end of August 2018, and I began my internship with IGC in October 2018. Being greeted with hugs and warm hellos was something that I was not prepared for. The Peace House has such a welcoming atmosphere, and I immediately knew that I wanted to immerse myself in with the community and staff and get involved right away.
My internship with IGC allows me to have different responsibilities week in and week out, and this allows me to tap into my strengths as well as challenge my weaknesses. I am able to fulfill my love for talking with different people and learning their stories with the interviews that I do. At the same I am getting to know the people that make up the West Englewood community while getting a better understanding of their experiences and the changes that need to happen. I have been given the chance to utilize my past experiences and training to soon start working on a very intimate project with the leadership team. I am able to get a small scope of the hard work that goes into running IGC on a daily basis when I work with the admin team. The detail, the networking, the spreadsheets, and the high communication level that happens gives me a whole other level of respect for the leadership and admin team at IGC. Throughout all of the work though, there are always smiles, music, and laughter.
The Peace House has shown me that it is possible for every voice to be validated. From the Peace House babies all the way up to the elders of the community, every voice is heard and validated. I’ve been shown that Hope lives on every corner and is in every heart. The genuine love and support that is poured into the people at the Peace House and into the West Englewood community is something that I have not experienced until now. Whether you go into the Peace House for yoga, Reiki, art therapy, resume’ assistance, help getting a state ID, or just to simply sit and talk over coffee and a sweet pastry, you will leave feeling fulfilled all around. For me IGC isn’t just an internship. It’s an opportunity to change and heal myself and the world around me. It’s a place of challenges and growth, peace and blessings, fight and resilience, and most of all, love. IGC, the Peace House… this organization, that house, those people, it’s where I get my serenity every week. For that I am forever grateful and indebted to them.
Love and Blessings,
Shanara Ellis, M.A.
Adler University Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Student
I Grow Chicago Intern