Thursday May 21, 2020
We are a spiritual community where you can explore your purpose and place.
Volunteering: to freely offer to do something
Recently, I heard an interview focussing on volunteering and how it has changed during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Often times our volunteer efforts relate to a passion, interest or love we have. As a result, the time spent feels rewarding, gives us a sense of contributing to others, and is generally fun. It is a gift of the heart.
What has changed over the past few months is that many of the opportunities we have had to volunteer are either not available at this time or are seen as a health risk – especially for those of us over 60! Because the time we have spent volunteering in the past has been fulfilling and provided contact with people, being unable to do this feels like a loss.
I then started to reflect on what volunteering has looked like within the community of Mill Woods Untied Church over the past few months. Yes, it has changed and many of the weekly efforts people did to support our outreach programs, worship, social activities, and overall programming are not occurring.
Interestingly, volunteering with our church community, hasn’t stopped, and in some way, it is more powerful than ever. Perhaps the greatest gift shared through our volunteering has been that of kindness – the kindness shown by dropping off a coffee, driving someone to an appointment, dropping off a plant, sharing some baking, visiting a neighbour from a distance, wishing someone a Happy Birthday, shopping for a friend, a simple card, email or phone call to say you care – the list goes on and on and on. Each of you, in your own special way has made a difference for someone else. Thank you.
It is often seen as dangerous to highlight people who do special things for others, in fear of missing others. Today, I am going to take that risk, simply because there are so many stellar examples of people volunteering their time, talents and treasure, in new and different ways, within the community of Mill Woods United Church. It is exceptional!
So here goes:
- Carol Hickmann and Kathy Poechman for the beautiful arrangement at the Church entrance
- Lynda Colgan for preparing extra frozen meals to share with those in need
- Karl Kropf for researching and bringing to council the need to purchase an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device and arranging for the annual inspection of our backflow device
- Rozalia Janiszewska, her family, and the Food not Bombs group who are doing a fine job maintaining the community garden at the church
- Our volunteer phoning group, led by Carla Janzen, which includes Linda Baker, Lynda Colgan, Robin Lane, Darlene Hayward, Enid Oldham, Wanda Egilsson, Cathy Bayly, Laverne Boswell, Jennifer McPhee, Nancy Erhman, Carol Hickmann, John Mair, Lindy Mair, Heather Lovenuik and Gary Boswell
- Brian Sampson for his ongoing ingenuity as our Sunday morning videographer and for arranging a couple of Zoom men’s gatherings
- Gary Boswell for his almost daily check-ins — setting up rain barrels, putting together the lawn mower, purchasing paint – the list goes on
- Lindy Mair, Amber Petch and Ethel Ray who have taken on the overall leadership of our Children’s Program and support of the work Georgia Englot does with our children
- Randy Round, with the assistance of Bill McGregor and Gord Hodge, for researching and applying for the various government assistance plans relevant to our congregation
- Len Penner, Barb Kitagawa and Jennifer McPhee for sharing their musical talents during our online Sunday worship
- Nance Siever for her generosity in helping us help out those less fortunate during this pandemic
- Our COVID-19 working group who led us through the first weeks and months of this pandemic – Laverne Boswell, Nancy Erhman, Ian Kellogg, Liliana Angel, John Mair, Cathy Bayly, Carla Janzen, Carol Hickmann and Gary Boswell
- Our Building Use committee of Carol Hickmann, Darlene Hayward, Kathy Poechman and Liliana Angel who are taking the lead in both the present day-to-day use of our building and in the creation of plans for reopening sometime in the future
- The many people who have offered to shop, drive, and generally support others in the congregation – your offers have not always been used but we appreciate knowing you are there when needed. Thanks to Lenette Courtney, Shane and Mariah Watton, Kathy and Shane Crawford, Harold Loughran, Elfrieda and Len Penner, Pat and Harvey Semrock, Brittany and Nick Sherman, Nancy Siever, Ruth St. Germain and AJ Janewski.
- Our committee chairs – Cathy Bayly, Randy Round, Ethel Ray, Carla Janzen, Carol Hickmann, Darlene Hayward and Gary Boswell who along with their committee members are involved in thinking ahead to how, when and what re-opening might look like
- Cathy Bayly for working with vendors and carefully shutting down our Spring Craft Fair and to Laura Paquette as she looks at the possibilities for our Christmas Craft Fair
- Our Ministry and Personnel committee of Audrey Murray, Jan Hodge and John Mair who have been in regular contact with our staff and modifying plans as the situation requires
- Bryan LeGrow who has volunteered during his time off this summer to provide music for as many Sunday services as he is available
- Don and Lil Grabinsky who made the annual Easter Bissell Centre luncheon once again available to hundreds of inner-city people and to all of you who generously donated funds for this work
- Wendy Edey who has provided an original Wednesday story for many to enjoy each week
- Meridel Hamaliuk for the great minutes she creates after each Worship committee meeting
- The leaders of our many programs who are looking at possible future plans–Food Bank, Heavenly Hospitality, Clothing Bank, Shawl Ministry/Stitching Connection, Bread Run, Form-filling – thanks to Francisco Rico, Don Grabinsky, Cathy Bayly, Robin Lane, Kathy Poechman, Ethel Ray, Barb Kitagawa, Lynda Colgan, Jennine Jensen, Laura Goss, and Olga Garcia
- Elfrieda Penner for keeping track of all our council meeting minutes and the variety of motions we have dealt with electronically
- All our congregational members who have continued to give financially to ensure we can serve both our congregation and our community
- The many people who have joined our Zoom coffee times and have enjoyed conversations with others
- And finally, let’s not forget Zoom – the mechanism so many of us have used for family gathering, council meetings, coffee times, committee meetings – and lots more. Everyone’s efforts to make Zoom work has been appreciated.
And yes, the list goes on. Thank you each for these gifts of time, talents and treasure. The richness and quality of what we do at Mill Woods United Church is the result of these gifts of love.
Rob McPhee, Council Chairperson