Mackensey Carter grew up in Orange County, California before moving to Washington, DC to attend Georgetown University. She majored in Theology and minored in Psychology was a pitcher for the university’s varsity softball team. She was also involved in Chi Alpha, a Christian ministry on Georgetown’s campus. Now, Mackensey is in Chicago serving with the Amate House program for a year. She hopes to stay in Chicago and earn my MSW after this year is complete.
Welcome to Amate House! This sign hangs outside our converted convent on the south side of Chicago in a neighborhood called McKinley Park where twelve of us live together in intentional community. Usually the mornings are quiet for me, because everyone is at work already since I go to work at 11:00 am. I take the morning to have quiet reflection and journaling time then around 10:45 Dave, my coworker, and I head to work.
One of my favorite things about living and working in Chicago is the amazing view of the skyline that I get to enjoy on almost every clear day! My walk to work is only about six blocks, which may feel a little longer in the freezing cold of winter but is actually enjoyable right now.
After my quick walk, I arrive at the Blessed Sacrament Teen Center around 11 am. The Teen Center is an after school program for middle school and high school students in McKinley Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. As the Program Coordinator I hope to provide a safe space for students after school is out and to be there for them in a mentorship capacity if the students need help in any area of life.
Since the program does not begin until after school, most of the first part of my day consists of general upkeep of the Teen Center, which includes administrative duties and cleaning the facilities.
We open the Teen Center at 2:45 and most of the students start arriving around 3:00 or 3:30. Students are free to come and go throughout the evening because we keep the Teen Center open until 7pm.
We provide tutoring, fitness and nutrition activities, and a comfortable place for the students to meet with friends. We also have a snack shop where the kids can buy food or snacks and many days we give out free snacks to the students. Volleyball, pool, and basketball seem to be the favorite activities of the students so much of my time is spent either supervising these sports or joining in the fun.
My favorite part of my job is the relationships and connections I have the privilege of building with many of the students. This is a picture of me and Michael, who is a student who I have been able to walk with through many struggles and triumphs already this year. We have been able to build a deep connection and mentorship relationship. He is hoping to go to college next year and I cannot wait to see the great accomplishments he will achieve.
After we close at 7 pm, I walk back home to have a nightly dinner with my eleven other roommates where we get to share stories about our days at work. I love community time! We rotate dinner responsibilities so that two different people cook a delicious dinner every night. We truly cherish this time around the table because it allows some genuine sharing time that almost always includes a ton of laughter. After dinner, on Mondays we have prayer night and on Wednesdays we have community building night, but on all other days we all relax until we head to bed and the day begins once again.