Organizations: Lutheran World Relief, McFarland Lutheran Church
Volunteer Service: Since 2006
What is the mission of Lutheran World Relief and McFarland Lutheran Church?
Lutheran World Relief is an international nonprofit organization that distributes quilts and other items for disaster relief and recovery efforts across the world.
I’m also a member of McFarland Lutheran Church, which hosts a weekly breakfast and Souper Supper events to provide people in our community with a free, hot meal. The breakfast mainly benefits high school students, but anyone is welcome to join us.
What is your involvement with these organizations?
Fifteen years ago, I saw that there was a need for volunteer cooks for various events at my church. I enjoy cooking and found it to be a great way to volunteer doing something I’m passionate about to benefit others.
In 2016, I started quilting with a group from my hometown church to benefit Lutheran World Relief. I grew up watching my mom quilt and found myself with extra time after my son graduated from high school. I currently volunteer to cut quilt squares from donated fabric and prepare the quilt face that gets sewn onto the additional layers by the quilting group. I’ve found it to be a great, flexible opportunity to express my creativity.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
I think we all have a need for community. Everyone wants to belong to a team and make a difference. Community involvement helps fill that void while also filling a need for others. Personally, I’ve found that when I volunteer, the friendships and enjoyment I gain from working together far outweighs the work.
Can you share memorable experience from your community involvement?
One time, the quilting group received feedback from Lutheran World Relief that a woman in Peru used a quilt to create a skirt for a job interview because she didn’t have any professional clothing to wear. So, on occasion, we send the quilts made with larger pieces of fabric versus the usual small squares because we never know the recipient’s needs. Sometimes the immediate need isn’t a blanket, but they may have more use for a mat, room divider, child carrier or tent. It’s remarkable to think that a small effort on my part can have such a big impact for someone else.
What have you learned about your community through your involvement?
There are a lot of ways to volunteer—whether you live in a big city or small town. You just need to find something for which you are passionate or want to learn more about. You might find yourself doing something you never dreamed of or discover a hidden talent. Volunteering should be fun, too. You get to work with other individuals in your community and make a difference for someone else.
Why is it important to give back to the communities we serve?
You never know where life will take you—some day you may find yourself on the receiving end. Everyone should give back to support the common good and help others in need when they’re able.
What advice would you give other colleagues looking to start volunteering?
I encourage everyone to find something they like to do and jump in. You don’t have to be an expert to lend a helping hand. I am a novice seamstress, but it doesn’t matter because I’m learning as I go. Knowing my volunteer efforts are providing a warm meal or quilt to someone in need is priceless.