During my MercyWorks Year, community played a role in all that I learned and experienced. Although living with 13 roommates proved overwhelming at times, my MercyWorks year was an incredible opportunity to learn with and from individuals with very different perspectives and life experiences.

In our year together, we both challenged and supported each other as we tackled our new professional roles within Mercy Home. Together, we also to enjoy the beauty of Chicago and the many neighborhoods that create its rich and diverse culture. At the same time, we explored the complex challenges – like violence and poverty – that the city and its most underserved neighborhoods and residents, including Mercy Home youth, face on a daily basis.

“…we both challenged and supported each other as we tackled our new professional roles…”

Though we all left MercyWorks with different interests and career plans, our shared experiences with one another and the youth we worked with have informed each of our personal and professional paths forward.

In the years since my MercyWorks experience, I’ve continued to build community in both personal and professional roles. In August 2017, my husband and I decided to combine our love for craft beer and community by opening Gathering Place Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Gather Place derives its name from the native Potawatomi word minwaking, meaning “gathering place by the waters.” In addition to brewing craft beer, we’ve created a taproom space for friends, families, and organizations to gather together. As part of our ongoing effort to “brew a stronger community,” we contribute time and resources to charitable causes throughout the city – particularly those that support youth development – and regularly host nonprofit and civic events that educate the community about important causes in the city.