Churches, synagogues, mosques and the charities that help them all could not do what they do without countless hours of volunteer help.
The federal government tends to count such things. In its most recent Volunteering in America report, it found that, “77.34 million adults (30.3 percent) volunteered through an organization last year.”
These unpaid helpers racked up some 6.9 billion hours adding an estimated $167 billion in economic value that non-profits did not have to spend.
“Millions more are supporting friends and family (43.1 percent) and doing favors for their neighbors (51.4 percent), suggesting that many are engaged in acts of ‘informal volunteering,’” the report concluded.
Locally, we asked volunteers at a number of different faith-based services why they do what they do, and why they’d like you to consider pitching in alongside them.
League City’s Interfaith Caring Ministries (ICM) is a large charity with a number of locations and services addressing the northern part of Galveston County. Right now, they are looking for unpaid helpers ranging from receptionists to directors.
Gwenne Lindsey is a good example of an ICM volunteer. She’s been packing up canned and dry goods for clients there for just over a year now.
“I enjoy working in the pantry with the other volunteers,” she said. “Everyone was helpful when I started out to learn where everything was and how the clients were taken care of. I feel blessed that God has provided this for me to do his work, and to provide for those who need this food.”
Kay Logsdon works with Lindsey. She is one of those unsung heroes who transport donations from the red donation barrels found at area supermarkets to Interfaith’s larder.
“I enjoy working with a caring group of people; sorting, shelving and distributing food and other items to families and individuals in the community,” Logsdon said. “It is gratifying to give back for all the blessings I have received.”
Co-worker Judy Farley has spent a dozen years making smiles appear at ICM. And she never grows tired of it.
“Last week, a little boy, about 8 years old, told me he was hungry all the time,” Farley recalled. “I promptly went and got a large tray of cupcakes for him and his brothers. He was so happy that I can see still see his face and big smile.”
“Yesterday a family of nine was there,” Farley said. “The adults did not speak much English, but the kids did, and they kept thanking me over and over for their food. The woman started crying when she saw the two baskets.”
None of ICM’s facets are labeled as gyms or health clubs, but Farley added that she needs neither after the weekly workout she gets by helping out here.
Interfaith has a long list of available volunteer positions online at icmtx.org or call 281-332-3881.
Back on the island, the many volunteers at the ministries of St. Vincent’s House, which includes a clinic, food pantry, classes and much more, were also ready to share with Our Faith.
Volunteer Bob Hern said his work with the laundry and shower service here gives his spirit a lift.
“Why am I volunteering?” Hern said. “Because I’m able to give time to an organization I believe provides a service to those who are in need. Being able to take a shower and have clean clothes gives a sense of dignity. Today, I talked with a young man who has a chance to get a job, but didn’t have clean clothes. Now, thanks to St. Vincent’s, he does. He got to take a shower and shave for the first time in three weeks.”
Hern cites Jesus’ command “to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.”
Fellow volunteer Zuri Morris said that growing up in Galveston, she always knew that St. Vincent’s was the place where those in need were always welcomed.
“I like being able to return as a volunteer and be able to give back to my community, as well as knowing and seeing that they are still carrying out the mission of helping people—it is so rewarding,” Morris said. “I know that St. Vincent’s House will continue to be a positive impact on the community and I am happy to have shared a part in volunteering here and I encourage others to do the same.”
She’s also gained useful knowledge here toward her future degree in social work from Prairie View A&M.
Carolyn Speich is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. St. Vincent’s is a part of the same denomination, so Speich said it felt natural to volunteer here.
“It is gratifying to know that you have helped another human being without receiving anything in return except their appreciation,” she said. “Selfless acts are their own reward.”
Galveston’s St. Vincent’s House is seeking volunteers in a variety of capacities at 2817 Alfreda Houston Place in Galveston. For details, call Angela Hill, 409-763-8521 or 409-765-2223.
Would you like to see the insights of your faith-based organization’s volunteers here? Just email me today.
Next week in Our Faith: A local church looks back at a half century of Lunar Communion.