A not-so-ordinary Joe

The idealists and visionaries, foolish enough to throw caution to the winds and express their ardor and faith in some supreme deed, have advanced mankind and have enriched the world”
- Emma Goldman

Joe Hopkins
US-2 Missionary and IWJ Worker Center Network Assistant

As early as high school, Joe knew he was called to ministry and social justice work. He decided the best way to combine the two would be to spend some time volunteering and serving the community before going into seminary.  

After graduating from Bucknell University, he joined the United Methodist Church's US-2 young adult missionary program and was placed at Interfaith Worker Justice in 2010. The US-2 program chose IWJ for Joe —but it felt like a natural fit given his commitment to immigrant and worker issues.  

During the last two years, Joe has served as the Worker Center Network Assistant, providing vital support to the network and the organizing department. 

Here, he shares some of his most memorable experiences —from figuring out the workings of online flight reservation websites to marching alongside religious leaders:

Joe begins to tell his story with a quote from Mother Teresa: "We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” It is those words, he said, that motivate him to do his best at any and every aspect of his job, regardless of how mundane the task may seem. As far as Joe is concerned, making phone calls and booking plane tickets for an organizing event are just as important as being the voice behind the bullhorn at a big rally.

A typical day for Joe involves many phones calls, e-mails, coordinating logistics for trainings and organizing conference calls for Workers' Center network leaders. “Those little things have a great impact,” Joe said. “They bring many different people together and give them the opportunity to do God's work.”

And he's right. In less than a decade, IWJ's Worker Center Network has grown to close to 30 centers around the country, thanks to the hard work and commitment of staff, worker center members, volunteers, interns, and missionaries like Joe. "The "small stuff": the calls, e-mails, meetings, planning...that's what make exciting things like the creation of a new center happen," he said.

While he enjoys his time at the office, there have also been quite a few adrenaline pumping assignments during this not-so-ordinary Joe's adventures in organizing.In February last year, Joe was asked to spend a couple of weeks in Madison, WI, at the height of attacks against public sector workers. There he helped organize 15 clergy to join protesters and lead a prayer service at the State Capitol.

"It was a very powerful and inspiring experience to join this group of religious leaders at the heart of a massive protest," Joe said. "From here onward, after experiencing both the "small stuff" and the big, exciting events, organizing will always be in my blood."

Joe's placement at IWJ ends in August of this year. We will greatly miss this young, budding organizer and his signature pageboy cap.

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