Serve Well Blog

6.24.11

Walking Alongside in Sitka

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Poverty: Urban US & International, Sustaining Service

Liz Purdy carves totem in SitkaLiz Purdy’s enthusiastic heart for service has taken the Seattle native to the far corners of the nation. In 2010, she spent five months teaching English to refugees at Jubilee Partners, an intentional Christian service community in Comer, Georgia. Last Fall, she moved from the southeastern United States to the southeast of Alaska to work in the town of Sitka. As a participant in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, Liz is a women’s advocate at Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) working alongside survivors of domestic violence. At SAFV, Liz assists with housing applications, connects women with pro-bono legal work and public assistance, prepares protective orders and accompanies women to court if so desired. “We are women willing to help other women navigate an often challenging legal and social service system that is rarely ‘user friendly,’” Liz said. She appreciates the philosophy of SAFV, saying, "We never tell a woman what we think she should do, but we let her know what her options are, offer objective feedback, and inform her as best we can about the tools she has at her disposal.”

This year, Liz has come face to face with the complexity of helping women in a cycle of abuse, and she has learned accompaniment in the process. “It’s hard to have women come in and ask for help, just to go back to dangerous situations or to feed their addictions. They may come back the next day, the next week, or never,” Liz said. This harsh reality reinforced for Liz that not only is she not called to fix anyone’s problems, but also that she couldn’t if she wanted to. Rather, her role is to listen and to support these women who struggle to make sense of their situation and try to move forward. Some days the positive change is hard to see.

At times, Liz misses the more measurable progress of teaching English back at Jubilee, and she often wonders where she'll find herself when her JVC-Northwest term is over. A concept Liz heard from former KF Keynote Father Greg Boyle has particularly resonated with her throughout this time: “We’re not called to be successful, we’re called to be faithful.” Focusing on the present, Liz is better able to walk alongside women struggling with feelings of hopelessness, helping them take the small steps toward healing and hope. 

Be sure to check out Liz's blog at www.lizpurdy.wordpress.com.
Special thanks to Annie Mesaros (09') for contributing this piece.

Current comments.

  1. Lucas Sharma said:

    Lovely post about Liz, it is great to hear her reflections about accompaniment and to think about sucess and faithfulness. It is true, when we accompany others, we are really on a journey of being faithful to who they are. Togeher, we share that journey.


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