A Day in the Life of Summer Staff

By Melanie Cocalis, Internship Director / Community Development

The alarm goes off at 6:00 AM. It’s time to begin preparing breakfast for 75 volunteers that will soon head out to various families’ homes to engage in new relationships and build with their hands. This is the fuel for the day, so it’s important to make enough. As others begin to wake up, food is being placed on the table, lunches are being prepared, my teammates are singing in the kitchen, and dishes are being washed. It seems like we have already had a full workday, before even heading to the worksite. This is why I’m here. To serve. To put others first. To humbly walk as Christ walked in my love and grace towards others.


Everyone heads out to the worksite. Prep starts, safety talks are had, and the building begins. We work hard until lunch, take a break for a time of devotion, and continue with the workday. A lot can be accomplished in one week. I have the blessing of seeing the fruits of this work not only for one week, but for 10 straight weeks. Beyond the physical building, I have the opportunity to build a relationship with this family all summer. I see them open up in ways they didn’t open up in earlier weeks. They begin to participate in the work, and learn they are gifted and passionate about building. They then share these gifts with their surrounding family and neighbors. This is why I’m here. To partner. To empower. To physically build homes, in order to build relationships.


As the workday comes to a close, we work hard to make a few last minute touches, pack up, and say goodbye to the family. This is where some of the real conversations begin to happen. I take a quick shower and head outside to play frisbee with a few students. Following Christ is fun, so we goof off and enjoy the time together. This builds trust.


I jump in and help my teammates make and serve dinner. Taco Tuesday… the best night! We share crazy stories from the day as students and leaders come through the line for food. More fuel. This time… fuel for worship. One of my favorite times of the day. This is an opportunity for me to truly engage with the Creator of this amazing community and culture I find myself immersed in daily. Hearing His word and worshipping, fills me on a day in, day out basis. But, I also know that this leads to the challenging, yet stimulating conversations with students. This is why I’m here. To listen. To encourage. To grow in my personal faith with Jesus Christ as I witness others deepening their relationship with Him.


I’m here to invest in long-term relationships with the families I encounter. I’m here to build trust with local organizations and churches. I’m here to engage in Christian community amongst my 11 teammates who challenge and push me daily. I’m here to share about Christ’s freedom. I’m here to encourage students and leaders to take this experience back home. I’m here to serve.
This is just one day of 77.

Next Step Ministries