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Summer Communities of Service Reflection: Meredith Higgins
By Meredith Higgins
Greetings from a current SCOS participant! I am interning at the Centerville Day Labor Resource Center (CLRC), in Centreville, Va. The labor resource center is a non-profit organization that provides
ameeting place and organizational support for the hiring of day laborers by employers (homeowners or contractors).
The CLRC is entirely funded by churches, businesses, grants, and individuals, and is staffed by two passionate and hard-working employees. In conjunction with several amazing volunteers, the Center offers multiple English classes, Korean classes (there is a large Korean population in Centreville) and supports various community-organizing projects.
Day laborers, or jornaleros, are individuals who have temporary work on an informal basis, typically in painting, construction or landscaping. These kinds of jobs are variable, often sparse and typically don’t pay well.
The Center is a crucial fixture in the community because it is a safe space that seeks to reduce wage theft, provides educational resources and jobs for workers. The CLRC operates on the basic principle that everyone deserves the right to a safe work environment, opportunities for personal development and to be adequately compensated for the work that they do.
In addition to my specific work at the Center, I have been challenged to examine the larger context of my work this summer. The immigration crisis is not a crisis of immigrants. It is a crisis of a hostile social climate, systemic oppression, and policies that fail to recognize the basic human desire of betterment.
Living Christ’s message of radical hospitality is not merely giving money to a charitable cause or conversationally commiserating with others about the crisis on the border. While these activities have generative value, our greater calling is to be in community, in solidarity, with others.
This concept can be often hard to actualize in a practical sense. What does it look like to be radically hospitable? It means acknowledging that we do not treat others well out of a sense of obligation or compulsion. Rather, we actively acknowledge that the things that separate us: documentation status, race, gender, ethnicity, have no power to dictate how we treat one another.
As this experience has opened up my eyes to issues of immigration and fair labor, I hope that you are provided the opportunity for experiencing and demonstrating radical hospitality. Thanks to the Alliance for helping me have this amazing opportunity!
Photo: Meredith Higgins (right) with Leah Grundset Davis (left) at the CLRC in Centreville, Va. (Photo: Alice Foltz)