As you read this ongoing series on volunteering, we’d like you to note two things: Netflix and Amazon Prime can’t provide the blessings which may flow from helping out, and if you head up a local faith-based ministry, we’d like to talk to your volunteers too.

The 2018 Volunteering in America Report actually reported an increase in volunteering which may also be reflected locally.

“The research also found that Americans are generous with more than just their time,” the report said. “Volunteers donate to charity at twice the rate as non-volunteers. Nearly 80 percent of volunteers donated to charity, compared to 40 percent of non-volunteers. Overall, half of all citizens (52.2%) donated to charity last year.”

This week’s heroes are assisting at Santa Fe’s H.I.S. Ministries which has a food pantry and resale shop, and at the Salvation Army which has service locations in both Texas City and Galveston.

Many of those working at H.I.S. are retired folks who shared how much they find such service fulfilling. We’ll start with, Mary Rios who is a spry 80.

“I was looking for somewhere to volunteer,” she said. “They also needed bilingual volunteers and I fit the bill. It is very rewarding. I get a sense of serving. When they are not open I miss it — it is an amazing and impressive organization.”

One of her fellow helpers, George McGough, 67, is a retiree from the U.S. Postal Service.

“I was bored and wanted to see what it was about here,” he said. “I like working there – it makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.”

And McGough added, tongue in check, “It keeps me out of trouble.”

Other volunteers said that working with needy clients put a new perspective on their own received blessings, even though no one here is likely a member of the politically infamous “one percent.”

Vicki Westover is the dynamo and long-time leader here at H.I.S. Meeting Westover changed things for 71-year old Julie McAlister.

“My mother was ill and I moved to Texas to help her,” McAlister explained. “After she passed and I retired and I met Vicki at church. She told me all about this ministry. Now, I love working here.”

We’ll give Billy Watson the last word from H.I.S.

“My love of garage sales brought me here,” Watson said. “We donated something and decided to check it out. I feel fulfilled when I volunteer. I feel like I’m doing my part and not being a drain on things.”

All these good folks would welcome your company, Westover told Our Faith.

“We’re seeking volunteers to help with both our food pantry and resale shop, which serves needy families in the Hitchcock and Santa Fe independent school districts,” she said. “Our hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 4205 Jackson St. in Santa Fe.” Please call 409- 925-4697 to volunteer or donate.

By the way, one of the rarest gems that the volunteer world can uncover are experienced grant writers. It’s a learned skill that changes with charitable tides and trends and few skilled practitioners.

Bilingual helpers are also especially prized by local, faith-based charities of all stripes.

Terri Cole, whose day job is at Odyssey Academy, said she volunteered to help out at the Salvation Army during her spare time after she lost her husband of almost 36 years.

“He was basically either in the hospital, in rehab, or at home dying for the last five months of his life and I was amazed at the support I received from my friends at the Salvation Army, Cole said. “We had hospital visits, calls, cards, prayers, food, goody baskets and continued offers of help. This support never stopped.”

Cole heads up the Army’s Women’s Auxiliary and said that there was much to admire as a volunteer leader here.

“The Army’s motto is ‘Doing the most good,’ she said. “I feel they could add the line, ‘With the least resources.’ This group works tirelessly to improve the lives of those who reside in Galveston County. There are so many ways that they make a difference in so many lives.”

I hardly need to introduce Texas City’s Chris Doyle. He’s a bank president, member of the Dallas Federal Reserve Board, community leader—and a Salvation Army volunteer.

“As a Christian and a community banker I feel it is my responsibility to volunteer in the community that I work and live,” Doyle said. It was 25 years ago that I started researching opportunities, and I thought this was a perfect place to do so. The work they do for those in need and during disasters drew me to them. The biggest surprise for me was the number of people in our community that need help.”

The Salvation Army of Galveston County is seeking volunteers in a variety of capacities to help in its Family Store, 601 51st St., in Galveston. For information, call 409-763-1691 or email galvestoncountyinfo@uss.salvationarmy.org.

So, old or young, monolingual or polyglot, these and other faith-based outfits are offering you, the good reader, a chance to make a difference by putting your faith to work.

Next week in Our Faith: Science and faith from an on-orbit perspective.

Rick Cousins can be reached at rick.cousins@galvnews.com.

(1) comment

Gary Miller

Thank you for this insiteful artical. It got me thinking. These people share one thing, they don't judge anyone by skin color or position in life, Just by their needs. Who else has the same outlook? All true conservatives. Progressives call all conservatives racist and worse but these people refute the lie it is.

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