By: Kelly Miller
Have you ever felt God nudge you to pursue something and then let your head talk your heart out of doing it? I’ve done a fair amount of ignoring God’s call to step out of my comfort zone and help women and children in need. Every time I opened my church newsletter or Sunday bulletin, I read about how Hope for Her was looking for volunteers. But as is often the case, I started rationalizing why I was ignoring God’s prompting. As a stay-at-home mom, what skills did I have to share? How could I help women re-enter the workforce when I’d been out of it myself for 12 years?
But as you may know, God whispers to us. And when we ignore His whispers, he shouts.
Tired of trying to ignore His shouts, I decided to spend the morning at Hope for Her to learn more about the organization and its needs. I learned that Hope for Her provides a safe place where women experiencing crisis and trauma and their families find help to restore their lives. Hope for Her doesn’t offer handouts — they offer hope and help. They look at the entire picture of a woman’s life and work together to create practical short- and long-term plans to help them live God’s purpose for their lives. Whether it’s teaching women to manage their income, helping with legal issues or learning employment skills, Hope for Her works one-on-one with women to restore their confidence and self-worth, remove barriers to safety and survival and rebuild critical life skills to thrive. They don’t offer a quick fix. That’s how the organization is different. Instead, they meet for several hours at a time, for as long as they’re needed, working with each guest to set goals and work together to achieve them.
Hope for Her depends on volunteers to help women in need. I’d spent so much time inventing reasons why I wouldn’t be a good volunteer. Finally, I allowed Executive Director Cheryl Hickman to bust those myths and accept my divine calling to serve.
Myth #1: I have no useful skills to share.
If you believe you don’t have any relevant skills to share with others, just spend some time with Kathy. Kathy meets one-on-one with all interested Hope for Her volunteers, simply talking to them about their life experiences. During this in-depth conversation, a volunteer’s potential skills inevitably come to the surface. The women at Hope for Her know that God sends them the people they need just at the right time. Volunteer Pat was a member of Bay Life Church when the blurb in the church bulletin tugged at her heart. She’d never volunteered before and found it scary stepping out of her comfort zone. But the more time she spent talking with Kathy, the more she realized her life experience was something she could draw on to help others. When Pat’s husband went on disability, she had to quickly learn how to navigate the system to get him the services he needed. By talking with Kathy, Pat realized this was a very useful but specialized skill. It’s now one Pat uses to help others in the same situation.
Myth #2: I’ll say the wrong thing.
I’m not a preacher. What if someone’s looking for counsel and I say the wrong thing? Or worse yet, what if I don’t have an answer? Every volunteer at Hope for Her goes through an extensive one-on-one training, followed by a period of job shadowing alongside experienced volunteers. And just because volunteers work with guests individually doesn’t mean they’re on their own. If a guest needs spiritual counseling for example, a quick phone call to someone in pastoral care at a partner church will get her what she needs. To volunteer at Hope for Her, it only takes a patient heart that cares about people and is open to the Holy Spirit.
Myth #3: I don’t have the time to volunteer.
Hope for Her isn’t looking for volunteers to donate 20 hours a week. They only need people who are willing to regularly and consistently give of their time weekly. For example, volunteer Carolyn gives two hours every week to teach a computer excel spreadsheet class. Many women need to hone their computer skills when reentering the workforce. If you have one to three hours you can give each week, that’s enough.
Are you a patient listener? Do you have several hours to spare to help in our community? To find out how you can change lives by volunteering at Hope for Her, contact Cheryl Hickman at 813-309-3357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.