As I sit here and prepare to write my second blog post on my journey with LMM, I cannot even believe how fast time moves as I have now completed five weeks of my ten-week internship experience this summer.

The month of June and the first few weeks of July have been filled with very new experiences for me; ones that have been absolutely incredible as they have further sparked my heart on fire for justice.

Advocacy has always been this buzz word I would always hear about, but I truly never knew the meaning until my time here this summer. Advocacy has a range of meanings, but I have learned it consists of many different aspects, such as advocating for legislation to help ensure long lasting policy change, educating decision makers on the impact of the policies they are considering, and supporting education efforts for our communities.

In January 2021, I participated in a virtual immersion trip to El Salvador over Zoom through John Carroll University and a quote struck me from the facilitator of the trip.

The facilitator encouraged us that education is one of the best forms of solidarity, especially in a time of the coronavirus and social distancing. To me, just educating myself doesn’t feel like much, I have a desire to do more and to be more.

With this, I’m drawn to a quote by Mother Teresa that reads: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Small things with great love.

We can all be advocates through intentionally reading the morning news, spending the time to dive deeper into a new book about a certain issue, sharing an article or petition with a friend and so much more. These small actions throughout our day, we can do with great love to support our brothers and sisters in this world.

An individual’s heart can truly be moved with an openness to learn something new.

A project that has been a big focus of my summer so far has been helping plan a virtual City of Cleveland Mayoral Forum on Housing & Homelessness. With the forum taking place on Wednesday, August 11th over Zoom, the planning and logistics have been well underway. This forum will provide an opportunity for those experiencing homelessness to ask questions to the candidates running for mayor in the City of Cleveland. This forum will aim to help the candidates running for mayor to take a deeper dive in becoming more educated on the current situation of housing and homelessness in Cleveland. Even through all of the logistics in planning the forum, I still am greatly aware of the presence of God and how he is at work.

Something I have been reminded of this summer is to be intentional with everything we do. Being intentional about an area of life will take more time, effort, and energy, but the intentionality of individuals can demonstrate the love and care in how God works in our lives. I believe that God is very intentional in all of his loving works in the world and I want to try and live that out myself.

Along with this project, I am in the midst of conducting a research project that is focused on reentry barriers and challenges for alums of the Chopping for Change program. I will be conducting research on this topic and executing a tangible product of stories and photos of fellow staff partners at LMM that are alums of Chopping for Change. These stories and photos will be in a virtual collection on the LMM website.

This summer has been very fruitful in so many ways with relationships, education, movements of the heart, and a desire to go deeper. Even though my time this summer here is flying by, I’m doing my best to take in as much as I can with the time I am blessed to have at LMM. I’m grateful for you all!

– Mark Grabowski, LMM Advocacy Intern