“I have so much to be thankful for,” says Jan Weaver, “God has taken such good care of me.” Jan, who is a resident of Oxford, was the recipient of a new roof this past summer. Several teens who attended Good Neighbors’ Youth Summer Camp spent five days replacing her roof during the month of July. “God arranged for me to meet Tom Hilferty, one of Good Neighbors’ project managers, just at the time when I needed a new roof. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it because I live on a limited income, but God brought Good Neighbors into my life just when I needed it.” Jan has been living alone for over 20 years and a recent fall has made it difficult for her to work.
Anyone who spends time with Jan will instantly notice her spirit of gratitude and grace and her spirit is a reminder to all of us to be deeply grateful for all the many blessings that God bestows upon all of us every day. May the spirit of Thanksgiving bless all of us!
The importance of volunteering can be summed up in a single word: hope. While volunteering is important because it puts a roof over someone’s head or fixes an unstable deck, the true power of volunteering is in the hope it brings into people’s lives.
Volunteering is important because it brings hope into the lives of the homeowners. Homeowners that need volunteer work often lack the physical or financial abilities to do the work themselves. They may feel dejected or abandoned. They may begin to lose faith in themselves, the world, or even God. When these homeowners see dozens of volunteers give up a week of their time to help a stranger, it changes their outlook on life. They realize that there are people out there that care for them and love them. Even more importantly, they remember that God loves them and has a plan for them.
Volunteering brings hope into the lives of the homeowners, but the effect extends much farther than a single person. The volunteers themselves experience the same feeling of hope. When I walked into the church on Sunday and saw all the people that had volunteered their time to spread the love of Jesus, I was blown away. I was even more amazed when I realized that these were the same people I saw in school and at the grocery store. Student and adult leaders alike both experience this feeling of hope. When one of my group leaders dropped me off and two other volunteers at the church for the last time, he graciously thanked us for serving with him that week. But what he said after that is something I will remember for the rest of my life. He told us that seeing dozens of teenagers volunteer a week of their time to help a stranger gave him hope that this world is going to be just fine. This comment showed me that volunteering has a powerful effect on more than just the homeowner.
The effects of volunteer work extends to one other group: the bystanders. Some people walk past the worksite without a second glance. But others take a minute to talk with us, and that is when I can truly see the hope that volunteering spreads. One man walked up to our group during our lunch break. After we told him what we were doing, he told us that it warmed his heart to see so many young people volunteering in his hometown. He thanked us again and prayed for us before he left. To me, this is the best part of volunteering. I love seeing the hope that is brings to the random people that happen to walk or drive past the house.
Volunteering provides physical and financial assistance to those who need it, but it does so much more. Volunteering gives hope to everyone involved with it, whether they are the homeowners, the volunteers, or the people that witness it.