VPS Student Demya-Justice Nixon had the opportunity to complete an internship at Open House Ministries this Summer. Demya truly enjoyed helping others and learned a lot about working with non-profits and communities in need. VPS provides students with access to local internships in Fall, Spring, and Summer. Internships help connect student learning to meaningful careers, helping students discover their passions and plan their futures. Open House Ministries is a consistent supporter of the VPS Career Connected Internship program and an amazing resource for our community.
When asked about the internship experience, this is what Demya shared…
1. How did you hear about OHM?
I heard about OHM through the VPS internship program this summer.
2. Where have you been serving on campus and what have you been doing?
I’ve been in the After School Program downstairs. I have been getting to know the kids, read with them, help them with projects, hand out snacks, and redirect unhelpful behavior.
3. What are some memorable moments that stand out during your time here?
Working the block party and seeing the kids in their element outside of the after-school program, as well as our trip to the zoo and the park. They had so much fun. Seeing the kids with their families is always a highlight.
4. How did serving at OHM increase your understanding about homelessness and family struggling in our community?
There was a day that we were learning about Joseph and the kids had a chance to share something hard that they’ve been through. That day I realized that nearly every kid there had been in the foster care system at some point. Hearing them recount vague points of trauma in their lives had me tearing up in the back of the room. I am grateful for the bravery they showed that day being so vulnerable, even the ones that just said “yes, I’ve been through something really hard and I don’t want to talk about it.”
5. How has serving at OHM impacted you?
Being part of a stable structure in these kids lives has been such a joy for me. I aim to choose curiosity over judgment. Kids are allowed to have hard days too, and these kids have already been through so much. I was surprised at the first incident of lashing out. When that happens I reflect on it later at home, and I’ve found there really is always a reason.
As adults, we know emotions can be all consuming. As kids, it fills their entire body and has to come out in some way. Seeing how they hold God close in their lives and joyfully say “God is with me!” To reassure themselves they’ll be okay, makes me feel hopeful. If you give them the time, they’re able to self regulate again. Even if it takes the rest of the day.
I think I’ve healed a bit of my inner child too, thinking “What would I have wanted or needed when I was their age and behaved this way?” And sure, I can come up with my own answers, but we’re all different. So just ask, because everyone knows themselves better than you do. Coming here has made me feel like I have a purpose, and shown me how I really can make a difference.
6. What would you like our readers to know?
Unhoused people don’t have the luxury of privacy during their worst moments. Open house ministries gives that back to them. Walking into this building is saying yes to vulnerability. Yes to the humanity in us all. I believe everyone is always doing their best, and that best looks different every day. You have to embrace it. Embrace everyone. It’s unlikely you’ll regret it.
I am proud of every single person that walks through those doors, even if I have never met them. I imagine feeling the pressure to do the work to transform not only yours, but also your kids lives. You are brave, and you will not be alone. There’s something unique about OHM-most of the employees you meet here have a similar story where they were in these residents shoes. They don’t have to imagine what you’re going through, they truly know.