Q&A: Summer Intern Ashley Petri Opens Up About What It’s Like to Intern at Family House

by Arleen Bandarrae

Published on September 6, 2023

Photo of Ashley Petri

Q: Congratulations on being awarded “Summer Volunteer of the Year!” Tell us about your experience.

A. I had the most wonderful experience at Family House! It was amazing to see how much Family House has grown since 2021 during COVID-19. Family House never seemed to lose hope and made it a goal to bring the light back to this home away from home again soon. It was amazing to watch and be a part of this happening over the few months of working there this past summer (May-August 2023).

Kids were running around in the hallways playing tag, families and staff were mingling with each other in the kitchen and lounges, and arts and crafts sessions were back, and I could feel the light that Family House is made of. I am incredibly grateful and proud to be a part of this organization and to say that I contributed, along with all the other amazing staff, to build Family House back up to what it once was.

Q: What did you enjoy most?

A. I am appreciative of all the wonderful families and people I have met. Serving dinners, doing arts and crafts, or even just walking down the hallways would lead to sparking meaningful conversations and meeting so many amazing people.

I especially loved connecting with the kids. My days would often be filled with chatting with families and building relationships—to the point where it was sad to say goodbye when they checked out.

Q: How has Family House impacted your life?

A: Going into Family House, a big goal of mine was to bring my optimism to many families. What I was not expecting was the amazing sound of kids genuinely laughing, to the point of being on the floor laughing. The laughter happened after I led an arts and crafts session, or when I was wrapping up dinner service and I would play tag with a few kids around the kitchen. I remember walking down imaginary stairs behind the counter while HK (a resident at Family House) was laughing and wanted to try it too. Or sitting on the ground doing temporary tattoos with Jerimiah and his sister. Or making and exchanging bracelets with two kind and beautiful sisters.

I keep my bracelet in my jewelry box and am going to bring it with me to college. The eldest sister, Hadia, and I spoke for ages. Her mom and sister did not speak much English, which gave her the role of translator at the age of 9. She was incredibly wise beyond her years. It was those times when I did not want to leave to go home at the end of the day, and often stayed longer than I anticipated just to keep hanging out with the families and their kids.

I also connected with a mother named Perla. She had two kids and was one of the first people that I considered to be a friend when I started working there. Saying bye to her and her kids was not easy. I told her I hoped I don’t see her back at Family House because I wanted her kids to be well enough not to return to the hospital.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: I am most proud of my drive to meet new people and families while working at Family House. College really assisted me in this; I really try meeting new people in classes, in my dorm, the dining hall, etc. My key trait of being approachable has led me to meet so many amazing people.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I will be a sophomore at Indiana University in Bloomington, studying Psychology, this coming fall.

Q: What advice would you give to others thinking about interning?

A: If you are unsure if you should join Family House, I’d recommend volunteering once so you can really see the magic of this place. I really enjoyed interning at Family House and am so grateful to be able to come back during school breaks to visit.