For members of this Sunday School class at Grace Church of the Nazarene, volunteering at Nashville Rescue Mission is a way to personally connect with hurting individuals–because after all, homelessness can happen to anyone.
Susan started volunteering at Nashville Rescue Mission because of her first-hand experience with the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. “After seeing the Mission’s program change my son’s life three years ago, I wanted to get involved and give back,” said Susan. She encouraged her fellow church members to volunteer with her and soon her entire Sunday School class got onboard. Susan realizes each individual she encounters is someone’s mother, brother, cousin, or son–like hers and that sparks an instant connection.
“Every time I walk in this building, I think about the help my son received while in the Mission’s program,” shared Susan. “I have so many wonderful memories here. I’m happy to say he graduated the program, then moved into the Mission’s transitional housing, before moving into his own place. Today he’s living in Nashville, and doing so well!
Bea, one of Susan’s dear friends, regularly joins her in the kitchen. Bea’s experience with homelessness hit pretty close to home. “My sister was once homeless. She didn’t live in Nashville, but whenever I’m volunteering at the Mission, I think about her. This person I’m serving a meal to could easily be like my sister, and is probably someone’s sister or brother. I make every effort to make eye with each person when they come through the line. I know they feel invisible when they are living on the streets. I want them to know, I see them and that they matter.”
Together, this Sunday School class made up of ten men and women serve lunch at the men’s campus once a month. They love to volunteer. For them, it’s all about creating a welcoming and personal community. They focus on listening to stories and developing friendships.
Margaret, a member of the class who also volunteers, feels a connection to the men and women who stay at the Mission and understands the need for the Gospel. “I was raised in a very poor household. I look at these men and women and think I could just have easily ended up here…homelessness is something that happen to anyone. I’m thankful the Mission shares the hope that comes from knowing Jesus to everyone who comes to them in need of help.” Margaret also loves how easy it is to volunteer. “The program is very organized, we are told exactly what to do and I’m always impressed with their high scores from the health department!”
“I like to work at the end of the counter,” she continued. “I try to connect with each person who comes through the line. Someone might look sad or grumpy, but when I say something nice to them, they light up! It makes my day and theirs.” Each of these volunteers has made friends while serving. Being surrounded by individuals with the same motivation to create a welcoming atmosphere makes it not only fun and rewarding, but exciting to offer service.
Volunteering is a great opportunity to help your neighbor in need, while also growing your own faith. Do YOU want to get involved?