2020 House Journal

December 17th, 2020

The life of the house has changed dramatically this year due to Coronavirus. We normally have a steady stream of people coming in and out of the house who we provide hospitality for–activists, friends and family, and occasionally someone that just needs a warm bed. Now the only people we see are on our own backyard patio, ten feet apart. And on what seems like the endless Zoom calls that Paul and Danielle have every day, working from home. It has been a challenge to find new community members who are a good fit. During the early days of Coronavirus, and after months of searching, we found Kelley Vosburgh. Kelley is an artist and a site representative for Hollywood film and TV productions. She was an instant fit into our community. We were sad when, after five months with us, she let us know that, due to financial constraints, she needed to move in with a friend. She says she’ll be back to our patio soon for a visit. She’s already missed.

Danielle Raskin is still a field organizer for IfNotNow, which did incredible work raising awareness of American funding for Israel’s occupation of Palestine during the presidential primary. She’s also taken up a variety of new cooking hobbies in addition to her bread baking, kombucha brewing, and now, ice cream making and kimchi fermenting. Everyone in the house receives the benefits of these new quarantine pursuits.

Paul Engler has been working on a lot of writing with both his brother Mark Engler in Philadelphia, and his writing assistant, Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs. After hours and hours every week, they’ve been able to produce a rough draft of a small book introducing Community Counseling, in addition to helping facilitate a small group every week. Paul has also been a leadership coach and consultant to a large Christian evangelical network in Phoenix, Arizona, working with his new friend, Dennae Pierre.

Sara Kurtz has been working long hours as an essential worker at Social Model Recovery, overseeing treatment services for individuals with substance use and mental health problems. During the pandemic, the residential program that Sara had started had to merge with another program, and Sara was promoted to a new role of directing and managing a much larger outpatient treatment center. She has done a lot to create a better work culture there and has made great progress in expanding their services.

Judy Esber and Brandon Youndt merged pods with us for a few months. For a few consecutive weeks, we were delighted by the community barbecues they hosted on our patio. For the last few months, Judy and Brandon have decided to enter into a pod with Judy’s extended family, so we have not seen as much of them lately. Judy has seen incredible success building her own small business providing financial coaching for women and couples who need support in learning how to become debt free and financially secure. Brandon has been working from home providing support for 3-D printing and woodworking facilities at an architecture school in Los Angeles.

We are grateful for the centering prayer group that we continue to host in our community over Zoom. And we’ve been surprised at how much we’ve kept in touch as a community with occasional board game nights, and group chats over zoom. However, we all feel the absence of touch and the warmth of everyone sitting in our living room. I pray that in the coming year a new cycle of community life, face to face, will again appear and flourish.

–Paul Engler


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