I grew up in a home where volunteering was a way of life. From a very young age, I watched my parents volunteer. It was something that was understood, and shown to me way more than it was ever talked about it. My parents taught Sunday School, volunteered with the youth group, my mom was on Young Life Committee, volunteering at school, counting money for Salvation Army, and in years past with all the hurricane evacuees my parents help prepare food, and set up beds at their local church. The funny thing about volunteering, is the goal is to serve others and remove the focus from yourself. Ultimately when you volunteer your heart changes as much as the person you are serving. While serving others, you too are being blessed.
I have always enjoyed volunteering. You are constantly meeting new people, and it’s extremely task oriented. It’s a win, win situation. In case you haven’t noticed I’m extremely task oriented and accomplishment drives me way more than it should. I’ve made most of my closest friends from volunteering. I volunteered at church whether with Vacation Bible Study, serving on Sunday’s, helping with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, or leading a Bible Study.
Christie, Sara, Lizzy, Ashlee and Julie at Vacation Bible School, Summer of 2015.
One of my first experiences volunteering, was when I decided to go on Summer Staff at Windy Gap, a Young Life camp in North Carolina. I was 18, didn’t know anyone and was headed half way across the country for one month. The funniest part was my job for the month was working in the kitchen. Now I love cooking gourmet meals, and baking, but working in a camp kitchen and feeding 400 or so people, 3 times a day was a little bit out of my wheel house. The biggest challenge, being in the kitchen at 6am. Y’all I had never seen 6am. It’s one thing to be up at 6 am it’s a whole other thing to be up and dressed, and doing something.
Matt and I preparing grilled cheese sandwiches, Windy Gap ’97.
It was one of the best summers of my life. I met my best friend in that kitchen. We would listen to music, dance and crack 1200 eggs, by 7am. Making grilled cheese for 400 people and fries in the deep fryer was both hysterical and a blast. We always argued over who was going to be the “fry girl” because the next day your face broke out from all that grease. Given the chance, I’d do it all over again. I learned how amazing God is, I learned that there a lot of amazing fun, crazy people who have the desire to serve God too. My life was changing just as much as those campers. I would never be the same.
Brooke and I, at Western Night, Windy Gap, ’97.
That one summer lit the fire for me to see volunteering as a way of life, not something that I just did on the weekends, or that I needed to travel across the world for. I could serve at church, or volunteer at MLF. I could have neighbors over for dinner, when their spouse was out of town, or run an errand for a friend who was stranded at home with a sick kid. Sometimes the biggest impact can be from the smallest act of service. Give with what you have where you are at. Some seasons I have the capacity to serve in a big way, and other seasons, it’s small, either way, I’m forced to look outside of myself and find joy serving those around me.
The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25