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One Month In

It has been one month since I left Michigan and flew to New Jersey and then went on my first Train ride with transfers from one state to another. I was very happy to be traveling in a group of amazing people.  I arrived at Stony Point, New York On the evening of August 19th after a long day of travel and meeting all the new Young Adult Volunteers on the way to what was going to be our home for the next week of orientation. We were greeted warmly at the door by Young Adult Volunteers Alumni and the Staff from the Presbyterian mission agency.  My one week at Stoney Point was all about preparing myself to spend 11 months away from home, getting to know the 53 other YAV’s who make up the 2019-2020 class, being trained in conflict management, racism, how to get along with roommates and learning about what it means to live simply and budget and Blogging. How to grow in our faith over the next year and being a member of an intentional community.

I took my first Subway ride through New York. My small group sent a whole day in a place called Washington Heights. We were to look around the neighborhood and see what was different about each of the areas as you moved closer to one end or the other end of the city and how were signs different , what businesses were in that area, what languages did we hear being spoken. It was a very eye opening experience and a little bit of a cultural sock.  We a group of 8 white people walking around an area and we could totally tell that we were outsiders. Some people in the area had lots of question about what we were doing there, like the owner of the sub shop were we stopped mid-day to have our lunch. Others ignored us or went down a different street just to avoid passing us.

Our week came to close with being commissioned at churches from the surrounding states.  My group the Ashville Young Adult Volunteers were picked up by the head pastor Rev. David Frost from Patterson Community Church and we had a nice drive through the mountains to the church in Patterson, New York which was an hour away from our orientation site. We were welcomed with open arms from the church. We were part of the sermon in introducing ourselves and sharing our personal stories of why we would want to take a year off from our young lives and go and serve in a new place. The elders of the church did the laying of the Hands over us to send us off . We now have become a part of the church for the year. The congregation reads our blogs, pray for us, and keep us a part of their community.  

Monday morning Bright and early my group was out the door at 6am to make it to the train station that would take us back into the city to catch the first flight from New Jersey to Washington D.C. I had a really cool time in D.C when boarding the plane that would take us to Asheville we actually got to go and walk up to the plane on the tarmac and climb the stairs to get inside the plane. I have never been able to do that I had only seen it down in movies. We arrived in Ashville on Monday August 26th in the afternoon and we were warmly greeted by a member of the Board of Directors for the Hands and Feet of Asheville program. We were then taken to Brooks-Howell Retirement community. We were introduced to our site coordinator Selena and we settled into our new rooms/ apartments and had a wonderful meal out at the local Pizza parlor in town that has a movie night regularly and an Arcade attached to it.  We then spent the next seven days in week two of orientation mode of learning all about Asheville, going on work placement site tours, getting our first stipend checks, finding the grocery store and going shopping as an apartment of 4 with very different tastes levels in food. We also had to learn the Bus system which for Deanna is a whole new ball game. The first two weeks was a learning process, but I have it now The Asheville program is in its second year of living at Brooks -Howell Center. It is a Methodist retirement community that is mostly made up of Deaconess and Missionaries. The Center started allowing men in the early 2000s live here. We have enjoyed the time we have spent with the residents learning about their stories and where they served in the field. We split our time between our work placement sites and Brooks-Howell.  On the weekends we go to Sunday school with the residents in the media room, help with crafts in the afternoon and just help out when we can with residents who need a little more help. We also spend time with the independent residents on Tuesdays when we host game nights.

I love my Work Placement site. I am the new Office Assistant for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. I work at the front desk and I help with clerical work, accepting home applications, answer phones and greet quests. I several amazing bosses and next year I will be able to help out on an Actual Build Site for a new family to receive there Habitat for Humanity Home.

The last moth has been a whirlwind. I have come to know so many new people who I consider friends. I have laughed, cried, been angry, depressed, sleep-deprived I have felt the homesickness, but the power of technology has helped with some of that getting to video chat with friends and my family.  I have also felt the love from people back home with messages and phone calls who I know always have my back. I am so excited to see what he Holy Spirit has planned for me this year and what gifts, talents, memories, experiences to make me a better person. I am ready able and charging forward and learning how to have a some more Orange type personality in my life.

Until my next blog my love to all of you


I would love to get Cards, Mail, Letters and small care-Packages. Below is my address for the Year.

Deanna McDonnell

Hands and Feet Volunteer

Brooks-Howell Home

266 Merrimon Avenue

Asheville NC 28801

If you feel led to do so, you can also still donate throughout the year to help me in Asheville, to cover living expenses.

You can donate online or by mailing a check made out to Hands and Feet of Asheville to 789 Merrimon Ave. Asheville, NC 28804

Anytime you do a donation make sure you put my name in the memo line so that it will be credited toward my account. There is also a space online to donate as well were you can put my name in.  


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