By JAC Intern, Jesse DiMeglio
“But like what do you do? Like what’s your actual job?”
This is the typical response I get when I talk to people about my work with JAC. I’ve been interning with JAC since October 2021. If I were to describe that time in one phrase, I would say it has been an opportunity for unparalleled connections. So when asked about JAC and what I do, my answer is always centered around the connections I’ve made with the lovely humans in JAC’s network, both on the inside and out.
This then occasionally prompts some kind of skepticism as not everyone has the opportunity to view their work as a hub for connection. But it was the community values and opportunity to connect with people from different walks of life that initially drew me to JAC. To say that my expectations have been met would be a vast understatement.
My responsibilities with JAC all fall under the general umbrella of managing correspondence. However, I imagine that underneath that umbrella are a bunch of little snowflakes. They say that no snowflake is exactly like another, and when it comes to correspondence no experience or responsibility is exactly like another! Between interning with JAC, being a student in college, coordinating volunteer groups on campus, and working at Starbucks (hit me up for any and all of your coffee needs), there is always something to do. So I’m excited to take this time to try and give you a glimpse into what a typical Monday looks like for me.
The first class of the week is Sociology: Love, Marriage, and Parenting where we study the institution of family. That class begins at 9:30 am so I usually try to wake up between 7:30 and 8:00 am to give myself some time to mentally prepare for my day. I usually do this by picking an album or playlist to ease me into the day and moving my body in some way whether through yoga, stretching, or a quick workout. I’m definitely not the most consistent with this, but I try! Then I get to take a nice stroll to class accompanied by my music.
I get out of class around 10:45 am and walk back to my apartment. At this time I have about an hour before I drive a group of volunteers to a local community kitchen called Face to Face. In this hour I like to eat breakfast and check email accounts, my personal email accounts as well as JAC’s CorrLinks and JPay accounts. I’ve gotten really close with several artists through CorrLinks and write regularly to about 4 of them. Often times our conversations are packed full of introspective and reflective thoughts so I like to read them early on so I have time to sit with them before I craft a response. Around 11:45 am I pick up the van and head over to Face to Face. I spend about two hours there, helping either in the kitchen or dining room. Chef Altenor is phenomenal and I usually get to try whatever he made for lunch that day. I’ve been volunteering with Pheed Philadelphia since my first year of school so this community is incredibly important to me.
After Face to Face, I quickly head back to campus for my next class at 2:00 pm. I kind of accidentally signed up for this class, it’s an anthropology course on cannibalism. Sounds kind of strange, but it’s actually incredibly fascinating. If you’re curious, please feel free to email me, I’d love to share some notes with you.
Anyways, after class I usually have an hour or two before I head over to work. During this time I’ll grab something to eat and do whatever JAC work is calling my attention that week. Sometimes it’s going through and organizing letter writing folders, planning for a Compassionate Correspondence event, working on our Inside Newsletter with another intern, Iris, organizing a call for submissions to be sent out to artists, or exploring artwork for our Gallery of the Month. As you can see, this role necessitates a wide variety of tasks which keeps me from ever getting bored! Then I’ll head to work until about 9:30 pm.
I usually Facetime my mom on my walk home from work. I’m a huge homebody and come from a very large and close-knit family so I don’t like to let too much time pass without checking in with them. Once home, I love to unwind with a shower and a cup of tea, and spend time with my roommate debriefing our days, listening to music, and chatting!
Around 11 pm or 12 am I head into my room and, depending on the night, I’ll try to respond to at least one letter. As I mentioned earlier, I like to take some time to sit with the letters, art, and emails I’m responding to. When I respond to letters and artwork, it’s usually about a week after I initially engaged with the work and then reengaged a couple of times throughout the week. I’ve found that late at night is when I’m most effectively able to write letters and gather my thoughts. This definitely isn’t always the case though. Some nights I just need to turn my mind off and watch mindless tv with my roommates, lay in bed and listen to music, or curl up with a good book (currently reading Dave Grohl’s Storyteller…SO GOOD!)
Well, thanks for reading this far! This is just an example of one day, but my schedule really is ever changing. I always look forward to later in the week for Wednesday’s Network Gatherings, and Thursdays are always great because that’s when we have the ArtConnects team meeting and the full team meeting so it’s a day full of JAC love and support. I genuinely get excited to hop on each and every JAC zoom call.
One of the wildest things to me about JAC is how close to and seen I feel by everyone on this team despite having never met in person. At every meeting we have check in and check out questions that have allowed me to get to know the people I’m working with better than I know friends I’ve known since elementary school. The same goes for some of the artists I’ve formed deep connections with, after less than a year of corresponding. It’s incredible what comes from a community built on intentionality, compassion, nourishment, heart, and soul.
Thanks again for reading! I really don’t have the words to convey the awesomeness of JAC. Once you’re in it, you’re in it, and the effects are irreversible in the best way possible. So I’ll leave you with the encouragement to reach out and get involved! There is truly space for everyone here.