Jaren and I have done a lot of service over the years.
I would say my passion for volunteering began when my employer asked me to help organize the United Way Campaign for the employees. It was a week long event where we shared video’s, personal stories, and the many ways to give and serve. I had benefited personally from United Way charities like the Good Will store that our mother shopped at from time to time for us kids, as a single mother of three.
I began to get more involved in service when I worked with WaMu. They were a very service oriented company and gave their employees 12 hours per quarter to volunteer during work hours. It was a wonderful gift. It allowed me to do more, as a single mother. Its harder when you’re a single parent. Time is so precious. Leave in the morning, drop off your child at school, head to work, put in at least an eight hour work day, plus lunch and then pick up your child and head home to cook dinner, homework, sports, spend time together, get them their bath and ready for bed and do it all over again the next day.
I loved volunteering and serving. I always walked away feeling good. So I began to look for service that I could do with my son. I didn’t want for him to be home with a sitter while I was out volunteering.
We served in many different ways, from awareness/charity walks, to serving Thanksgiving dinners at a homeless shelter, to working with special needs kids and many other various events. It really was so much fun serving side by side with my son.
However, I did do a few things without my son, like in 2006, Jaren’s school invited me to join their Campus Involvement Committee. It was a one school year commitment. I enjoyed that and learned a lot about how the schools work. I also got to provide input. It was a great group of professionals to work with.
From 2005-2007 I was invited to join the Community Involvement Team at WaMu and was the Secretary for one of those years.
And lastly, one of the employees of UnityDallas asked me to join their committee to help organize their family event, called Where’s the Beach, which I did in 2008 and in 2010. I was the volunteer coordinator. It was about a six month commitment for the planning of the event.
When I resigned from the bank in 2012, I volunteered at UnityDallas, my church, for about nine months, working one to two days in the office, answering phones and handling minor office duties. It was a lot of fun.
Then, when Jaren got to high school, he began to go even further serving with our YOU youth program at church. He already had the experience. And he enjoyed serving. Even when the folks at the church needed a hand, they knew they could ask him. When they had Open Mic night for the YOUers, who took turns performing along with adults on a small stage, it was Jaren who worked the sound booth, taking a short break here and there to eat or perform his song. And when he graduated, he was able to get his service recognition, thanks to his sponsors and UnityDallas. I will tell you, that meant more to me than any academic or athletic award.
Giving service, whether we are thanked or not, whether we get an award or not, whether someone parades us on stage or not is really irrelevant. In the end, when I walk before God and he ask me and my son, what we did for his people, we will be able to reply, “We did this and we did it humbly with a grateful heart.”