Two years of Opportunity and Change

Second year Dominican Volunteer Holly Sammons serves with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, working in their Permaculture Office. DVUSA is grateful for your service, wisdom, and compassion Holly, and we wish you the very best in future endeavors.

Holly on a tour of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

I write this post with only about six weeks left as a Dominican Volunteer.  It feels as if a two year chapter in my life is closing and yet there are many lessons, relationships, and skills that I will take with me.  My first year as a Dominican Volunteer I worked with newly arrived refugees in Atlanta, GA.  During those 11 months I learned about resilience and hope from the clients I worked with.  I thought of the hardships and loss of these people as I dealt with my own losses.  I struggled to cope with the death of my father while being so far from everyone and everything I knew.  During the over nine months I was in Atlanta following my father’s death I received love and support from my Atlanta community and friends in the area.  I also learned about my own strength and power as I strove to continue to do my best each day.  I gained confidence from my ministry and an understanding of the refugee resettlement process in the U.S.  I was given many opportunities to grow during this time and did my best to take them. 

  Near the end of my first year as a Dominican Volunteer I began discerning a second year of service.  I struggled to know what to do next as grief continued to color my everyday life.  After some careful thinking I decided to do a second year as a Dominican Volunteer in Adrian, MI with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.  I wanted to continue to grow and be of service while also working to heal myself. 

Like my time in Atlanta, my time in Michigan has been filled with many great opportunities and people.    I have been welcomed by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and been blessed to learn about the work of a whole congregation of amazing women religious.  I work in the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse and mostly split my time between their Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation and their Permaculture Office.  Through my work with the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation I have been able to travel to different events including the School of the Americas Watch Convergence at the Border in Arizona, the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C.  These events have opened my mind to new possibilities and ways of thinking.  I am so grateful for these incredible learning experiences.   
Through my work with the Permaculture Office I have expanded my knowledge of environmental issues and acquired some practical skills such as how to start seeds and plant.  I look forward to having my own home garden someday!

Throughout my time in Michigan ,I have continued to deal with my losses and tried to acknowledge the “progress” I have made.  Some days this is easier to do than others.  I have learned that grieving is much more complicated and messy that I ever realized when I began this journey but have moved forward with the help of family, friends and my communities in Atlanta and Adrian.