Meet The Colleagues

Neshia Alaovae

Neshia's Impact

"Take gentle care." Neshia Alaovae embraced these words as she began service last August as Compassionate Companion at Joseph's House, a hospice that serves formerly homeless people with end-stage HIV/AIDS. Nervous about a new city, new housemates, and a challenging new position, she appreciated the reminder to take care not just of others, but herself.

Living out those wise words meant learning "to balance my burning desire for social justice and my everlasting need for compassion," she says. Remembering to breathe helped. Learning to grieve helped. Being vulnerable and sharing sorrows with others helped. "Some people go their entire lives without being vulnerable enough to feel the hurt that comes with real companionship," she says. "I get to feel it as my job."

Overwhelmed by her schedule and her daily rhythm of grief and joy, she quit blogging in January-until she realized that by not sharing her feelings, "I crippled myself," she says. 

So for Lent, Neshia resolved to blog. Sacrificing time, honesty, and privacy for her "vulnerability fast" was harder than giving up chocolate, but was a way to hold herself gently. "The weight of my sorrow is made bearable and even greatly diminished by the sweetness of being in community," she told readers. "By reading this, you also help carry me. Even when it hurts, I still think we need each other."

Neshia's Service Bio

Neshia is serving as a Compassionate Companion at a hospice called Joseph’s House, a resting home for formerly homeless men and women with end-stage HIV/AIDS and cancer. Though she does assist with a lot of the resident medical care, her main purpose is to accompany people as they prepare to die through deep listening, loving touch, and compassionate presence.


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Colleague Info

Jesuit Volunteer Corps
North America
Washington, D.C.

Urban America