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Thursday, June 20th, 2019

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New York


Church Fellows to Serve in the South Bronx

(L-R) Fellows Sara Fread, Evans Schmedtje, Natalia Dellavalle, Duy Ngyuen, and Emilie Han pose in front of their new home at the Trinity House (photo: thisistheBronx/Diego Barcacel Peña)

by Diego Barcacel Peña

September 11, 2018


This past Thursday the Trinity Episcopal Church of Morrisania welcomed five new fellows to the Bronx who will provide support to two south Bronx non-profits.

The New York Service and Justice Collaborative’s (NYSJC), which also has fellows at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, chose five recent college graduates from around the country to teach and work for a year with young people in the East Side House Settlement and the New Life School.  They will be living together in a house right next to the 150-year-old church.

The exact moment as Bishop Allen Shin cuts the ribbon for Trinity House (photo: thisistheBronX/Diego Barcacel Peña)

The Bishop Allen Shin, who blessed the Trinity House at a ribbon cutting ceremony, hopes that the program will not only guide their futures, but support the Bronx, too.

“The idea is that they get experience of community service and social justice work, living together as a community to learn that we are all in this life together, and to create a connection with their own spiritual well-being.”

The church’s current Lay leader, Paula Roberts, whose father was a rector at the church for over 40 years, actually grew up in the Trinity House and has a strong belief in giving back to her community.

She thinks that having the fellows in the neighborhood will be beneficial both to them and the community.

“These are young people who don’t know anything about how the people thrive and do well in spite of the challenges that we have in this community,” said Lay Leader Roberts.  “So this is part of teaching them and helping them become more sensitive, more empathetic, and instill certain ethics and morals.”

But the fellows themselves have different reasons for wanting to work with the Episcopal church that include wanting to be able to leave their hometowns to bettering themselves as human beings.

Lay Leader Paula Roberts welcomes the fellows, as members of the community watch (photo: thisistheBronX/Diego Barcacel Peña)

“I’ve always had a passion for social justice and I wasn’t quite ready to start graduate school or get a full time job right after college,” said fellow Sara Fread from Hudson, Iowa who will be working at the New Life School.

“So this program has given me a really great opportunity to integrate my passion for my faith and social justice to prepare me for the future.”

On the other hand, fellow Natalia Dellavalle from Denver, Colorado, who will work at the East Side House Settlement, is happy to have been placed in the south Bronx because she feels the work she wants to do is rooted more in community.

“I wanted to experience a new place and gain some vocational discernment in terms of what I wanted to do, but I know that can often be a really isolating process for a lot of young adults,” said Dellavalle.

“And so I really thought this program seemed like an awesome opportunity to visit a new place and be around people who want to cultivate their spirituality and build a strong relationship and community.”

Support from the Episcopal Diocese of New York, outreach ministries of the Trinity Episcopal Church of Morrisania, and Bronx partners like the New Life School and East Side House Settlements help give the fellows housing, meals, unlimited transportation, and a money stipend.

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