Romi Pierce carries a copy of a quote by Lao-Tzu with her: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
And so it is for Romi.
Romi took her first step toward understanding her vocation when she volunteered at the Welcome Center, a ministry of the ELCA in Philadelphia.
Twice a week, center volunteers and the homeless enjoy lunch and a movie together.
“At the Welcome Center, we connect and value everyone,” Romi says. “There’s no sense that this is a handout, but there is a sense that we are all valued. I love this work.”
Her experience at the Welcome Center showed Romi that community work and public policy go hand-in-hand.
“I realized the community work is absolutely important,” the 27-year-old says, “but it is also important to ensure that policies are enacted to improve the lives of people and to protect your work.”
As her journey unfolds, Romi recognizes that she is not alone as she takes steps into her future.
“I can now see that layers of experiences are being built,” she says. “God is not just with me, but is pushing me and demanding me to be the best I can be. I know I would not be where I am today had it not been for my faith in God.”
In fact, the insights she gained from volunteering at the Welcome Center led Romi to obtain a master’s degree in health management and policy from Drexel University, also located in Philadelphia.
The ELCA internship gave Romi a bird’s-eye view of how macro policies affect individuals on the micro level. That knowledge helps Romi envision a future step; she hopes one day to create health policies that make a difference.
One unexpected side trip — a trip toward self — also appeared on Romi’s map.
“I think most people, especially young adults, have this perception of what a Christian is supposed to look like, be like, act like, and quite frankly that is not the truth,” she says.
“The best part about being older and strengthening my walk with God is that I am loved just for who I am, with all of the imperfections. Maybe most people know that, but I didn’t. As soon as I started to be who God has formed me to be, I found that not only my sense of self deepened but also my love for God.”