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Hood River Jesuit Volunteers (JVs) Discuss Their Service Year

Michaela Busch, Marly Beck, and Ryan Zoellner (’20-21) speak on their experiences serving in Hood River, Oregon.  

Michaela serves as the Prevention Educator at Helping Hands Against Violence, Inc, Marly as the Garden/Community Outreach Coordinator at FISH Food Bank, and Ryan serves as Museum Outreach Coordinator at Hood River County Heritage Council. The following dialogue has been edited for clarity and brevity.  

Marly: I think my favorite part of my service as Garden Coordinator is getting to see the different seasonal changes that happen. I’m planning a crop rotation right now and I’ll get to see all these things grow and begin. Coming from college where everything is like a semesterly basis or maybe a year-long basis, you have a mindset of quick results and quick changes. But working in a garden where people have been working this area for like a decade, you kind of understand that things aren’t going to change in a month, things aren’t going to change in a year, but what matters is the slow progression.  

“things aren’t going to change in a month, things aren’t going to change in a year, but what matters is the slow progression.”

Michaela: Helping Hands has kind of given me a little bit more idea of how to be trauma-informed and provide trauma-informed care, which is something that’s really important to me since I want to go into the medical field. I think my favorite service memory was in October which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I got all my coworkers to walk around downtown Hood River with me and we hung up purple ribbons on all the light posts with quotes from different survivors to spread more awareness.  

Ryan: I think my favorite was fairly recently we did our first virtual tour of the museum with a third-grade class. Like, it went off perfectly. Like, we stressed about it for weeks, and everything went off great. The history museum has given me a new appreciation for what it means to collect stories and what your role as a story collector is like.  

“The history museum has given me a new appreciation for what it means to collect stories”

Marly: Because the schools are closed, a lot of the kids would really enjoy coming to the garden, it was like, their only socialization was me. Just knowing that I was able to give some kind of social time to them and be someone who’s not their parents to listen felt really nice, and was unexpected in a garden context.  

Michaela: I think my favorite part of my service year has been the people that I’ve met. You have to go in with an open mind.  

Ryan: I think what makes our community work is that we’re all, like, willing to try to make it work. 

Michaela: You’ve got to kind of get creative with community events.  

Ryan: (Laughs) You’ve got to get creative, yeah.  

“You’ve got to get creative.”

Michaela: Most recently we actually painted along with Bob Ross.  

Ryan: (Pointing out on the river and laughing) Okay, so right at that spot right there, Michaela and I were in a canoe—it was an inflatable canoe—and it sunk! We literally were in a sinking canoe like, right there! 

Michaela: We have a wood stove that we have to consistently feed wood to and tend to the fire if we want to be warm. And we have to start it like an hour before our house actually warms up at all. 

Ryan: So if you’re the first person to come home, it would be the compassionate thing to do to light the fire right away.  

I hadn’t heard of Hood River, our locale, until I came here, and so I was pretty unsure of what it was going to be like. I think the advice I would give is that if you’re gonna do it, you really gotta do it. You just gotta commit (Laughs). Don’t be lukewarm about anything, like—lukewarm’s not gonna work.  


To learn more about the locations where JVs serve throughout the Pacific Northwest, visit our Locale Descriptions page.

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