Hello to all!
I’m Elisabeth Ivey, a writer and coffee enthusiast (I’d like to personally thank the generous members of the St. Stephen’s community for keeping me well-supplied).
I’m also a recent graduate of Messiah College, where I studied English and Sociology & Anthropology. Those two areas of study intersect in my desire to study the people and the world through story. I’ve personally experienced the powerful influence of story to stretch me beyond my own experience. As an author-in-training, I hope the stories I portray will similarly challenge and affirm readers.
I haven’t strayed far from where I spent the last four years. As Program Coordinator with the Center for Public Humanities at Messiah College, I have the honor of working on the very same campus that’s been home for some time. I cherish my work. In my position, I’ve had the opportunity to work with brilliant students who dedicate themselves to research and the community in their roles as fellows. Through a program called Poetry in Place, I get to tour and learn about Harrisburg alongside middle school students before they compose poetry to reflect on those experiences. In whatever work I pursue next, I hope it allows for the same creative and thoughtful work I’ve been able to engage with at the Center.
Before college, I lived in seven different states, so I grew accustomed to the idea that a transition meant a geographical change. When I learned I would get to stay in the area for another year, I realized I would get to practice presence and learn how to grow deeper into the community here. I’m thankful for this chance to experience the city in new ways. Living in the Sycamore House, attending St. Stephen’s, working at Messiah College, and exploring Harrisburg, I anticipate a year of growth as I learn from those around me and engage in intentional relationships. Thank you for being a part of that!
Photography by Owen McCullum
Hi, my name is Chloe! Last May, I graduated from Calvin College in Michigan with a degree in English Literature and Environmental Studies. I’ve spent my life thus far split equally between three places: Beijing, China; Birmingham, Alabama; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Because of this, I’m not entirely sure where to call home, but this year I’m excited to explore a new place.
Since I spent the first chunk of my life in China as a missionary kid in a small Reformed denomination, I’ve grown up appreciating the role of culture and the importance of community. When I studied in England for a semester during college, I was drawn to the liturgical and ecumenical aspects of the Anglican tradition. Through my time living in the Sycamore House, I hope to learn more about the Episcopal Church as well as how to live intentionally with others.
This year, my service placement is with the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club. As a national grassroots environmental advocacy group, the Sierra Club is largely volunteer-run. My position as an Organizing Fellow primarily involves supporting these volunteer leaders across the state, creating resources for local groups and coordinating statewide strategies for their environmental justice campaigns.
The majority of my work supports the state’s “Ready for 100” campaign, a national movement that advocates for clean and equitable energy, urging local legislators and decision-makers to make commitments to renewable energy and offering action plans to back these resolutions. In light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report, this work feels more critical than ever.
Although it’s been just over a month, I’ve already been challenged and stretched by my time here. And I’ve been incredibly grateful for walks along the Susquehanna River, the goodwill and humor of my housemates, the kindness of my coworkers, and the generosity of the members of St Stephen’s.
Here’s to a good year and to good things to come.
My name is Katie Lamp, and I came to Sycamore House by way of small town Alabama. I graduated from the University of South Alabama in December 2016 with my Bachelor’s in Social Work. Before arriving in Harrisburg, I worked in community mental health as a case manager. This year, I will be serving with Capital Area Head Start. I am excited about this opportunity because I have always loved working with children and I am looking forward to being a part of early interventions that will benefit these students for years to come.
Whenever someone finds out where I’m from, the first question is always, “Why Pennsylvania?” The answer is that Pennsylvania is home, too! I was born here along with my mother and three of my grandparents. I fondly remember many summer vacations here and always told my parents growing up that I was going to live here one day, even if just for a year. I’m happy that my statement was correct!
In my free time, I love exploring my new surroundings, reading, and listening to music and sports radio. I love watching football (NOT an Alabama fan!), baseball, and hockey. I am also very interested in genealogy and have composed a substantial family tree archive. When I’m back home in Alabama, I spend a lot of time with my Godson who is almost 4.
Serving with Sycamore House is a dream come true, and I cannot wait to see how being a part of the house, St. Stephen’s, and the Harrisburg community over the next year will impact my life for years to come!
Hello! My name is Ben Shao, and I am a recent UConn graduate majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology. My career goal is to practice medicine, and I wanted to take this year after recently graduating from college to serve others and practice the humanity side of medicine that I think is so vital to becoming a great physician.
This year, I will be serving at Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area and Beacon Clinic. My role at Habitat for Humanity is to identify grants that best fit our organization and help write them so that our organization can continue in serving the families of Harrisburg. At Beacon Clinic, my role is to help low-income individuals navigate through the complex world of healthcare insurance and help in any way possible. These two placements have been a blessing for me, as they both involve my passions towards healthcare and homelessness. As someone who wishes to become a physician in the near future, I know that the lessons that I will learn between the two placements will help me gain a broader idea of how healthcare relates to other various aspects of life.
I have lived the past 16 years in a small, seaside town just on the outskirts of New Haven, CT. Growing up in the same community for a long time has helped develop a strong connection with the place I grew up in, and it strengthened my passion and belief of giving back to the community. What drew me to the Episcopal Service Corps, and specifically Sycamore House, was the idea of being a part of the Harrisburg community and serving those that I would be sharing this community with. While it has only been a little over one month since moving into Harrisburg, I feel welcomed here in the city of Harrisburg, and I am eager in exploring and growing in this wonderful city.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time outside and staying active. I enjoy playing most sports, but my favorites to play are basketball and tennis. I also love to stay indoors as well sometimes and watch movies, TV shows, or read autobiographies or memoirs. Here in the city, I have noticed the plethora of activities and organizations that I can get involved in, and I am excited to explore my hobbies and passions within the city of Harrisburg.
I am very thankful to be a member of the Sycamore House this year, and I am looking forward to both serving at my placements and also getting to know both my wonderful housemates and the St. Stephen’s community!
My name is Shannon Pedersen, and I am so incredibly excited to be serving with the Episcopal Service Corps at the Sycamore House this year!
Originally, I was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. For college, I attended Messiah College, which is about 20 minutes away from the Sycamore House and located in Mechanicsburg, PA. I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Politics and International Relations. Since the Harrisburg suburban area is already familiar to me, I am looking forward to building new and deeper friendships with the urban community.
I have a very mixed faith background, but in the beginning of 2018, I began attending various Episcopal churches. I love the liturgy of the church as well as the open welcome to the LGBTQ+ community, so when I learned about the Episcopal Service Corps, I was eager to find a placement that I could call home for a year. This year, I am working at the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania as an Events Coordinator & Assistant to the Canon for Congregational Life and Mission.
During this year, I look forward to continuing to follow my passions of interfaith and intercultural relations as well as community development across socioeconomic barriers. When I’m not working, I enjoy reading books, hiking, and playing board or card games!
My name is Madi Keaton, and I am a recent Messiah College graduate who is serving at the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (a legal aid clinic that represents Pennsylvania’s low-income utility and energy customers) and the Community Justice Project (a legal aid clinic protecting the civil rights of low-income Pennsylvanians through improved public benefits, affordable housing, better pay, and more). As someone who wants a career in environmental justice (and is leaning more and more towards law school every day), being able to work on cases to fight for basic human rights like access to water or a home is a dream come true.
I grew up about 50 minutes from Harrisburg, which means that the most common question I get from family and friends back home is, “Harrisburg? Why didn’t you choose a Service Corps location further away, like Boston or LA?” The truth is, I love Harrisburg. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere, Harrisburg is unfamiliar, daunting, and exciting. Throughout my time at Messiah, I traveled to Harrisburg frequently for my internship at the YWCA, hung out with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, and attended concerts and ate at restaurants. I had an unusually strong affection for the city and knew in my heart as I got closer and closer to graduation that I needed to find a way to stay there just a little longer.
In my free time, I like to do anything involving nature, music, or art. I love going on long hikes, gardening, and tending to one of the many plants occupying my room. In the fall, you’ll see me scanning the ground and fallen trees for identifiable mushrooms and in the spring, my eyes will shift towards treetops looking for birds. I was raised in a musical family, singing and playing guitar and performing in musical theater. If I don’t listen to music within a span of 24 hours, I get noticeably agitated. I listen to everything from 1950’s country to 12-minute-long sitar recordings to mumble rap, and please don’t ask me what my favorite song is because the answer you’ll get is a 50-way tie. My family also owns a pottery shop, so I grew up with a love for creation. I like to paint with watercolors and make jewelry, as well as sew, crochet, and craft just about anything.
I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this year’s Sycamore House and am looking forward to getting to know my housemates and the members of St. Stephen’s Cathedral!