For the Volunteer

Dear Volunteer,

I am a mother of 3 and have experienced every children’s ministry environment offered at Buckhead Church. I was watching Large Group in Waumba Land Sunday morning when years of memories came flooding in. As the children raised their hands in worship, I was overcome with gratitude.

I wish I had thanked you sooner. Only, I didn’t have the words. On this day, while standing in the back watching men and women, with busy lives, volunteer to surround our preschoolers with truth and light, the words came faster than I could process them.

UpStreet, thank you for welcoming and ushering in my 7-year-old with bed head and a half eaten pop tart in his hand. Little did you know, just 5 minutes before, I was sitting in my car contemplating not coming in. You removed the weight of the world in those few moments at check-in.

Transit, thank you for sacrificing your time to my confused middle schooler (now in high school) not only on Sunday, but for retreats, special outings and all the texts/calls/emails in-between when you were the only voice of reason. In those times when my words fell on deaf ears, yours were heard, felt and followed. You didn’t know that the weeks leading up to boot camp she had contemplated suicide. Thank you for praying that prayer with her on the last night of camp. You were able to speak hope in a way that I couldn’t. I wonder how many souls have been saved because of your investment?

Waumba Land, thank you for greeting my child with a warm smile at the door when he had arms crossed, furrowed brow and feet firmly planted outside the room. Thank you for playing referee when he was “the runner.” And the times you took his hand while looking at my worried face and said, “Go to service mom. We will be just fine here” as he screamed and kicked, were the days I got the most from the message. You didn’t know this, but when my alarm went off that morning I hit snooze and strongly considered staying in bed. Your interactions with my child motivated me to get up and out even when it felt like staying home was avoiding a battle.

Host Team, thank you for making sure I don’t get lost in the crowd. I have been attending for years but there was a Sunday, last year, when I must have looked lost because several of you welcomed me and asked if you could help me find where I was going. “No thanks.” was my response, but the fact that you took notice and offered to help meant so much. You didn’t know this but the next day my 36-year-old friend passed away 9 months after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She left behind a husband and two small children my kids ages. We had grown up together and I felt like part of my childhood was buried with her that day.

Parking Team, if maintaining a highly functioning team of hundreds to get people in and out of one of the busiest areas in Atlanta was an Olympic sport, you would, without a doubt, take the gold. Thank you for showing up, rain or shine, putting on a vest and a smile and waving your flashing wand. You may not know that more than once I have tried to use the excuse of “traffic” and my preschooler would say, “Mommy, can the ninjas in orange vests with lightsabers show us where to park?” What can I say to that? Out of the mouth of babes…

Facilities and clean up crew. Thank you doesn’t even seem close to appropriate. Wow, you have a tough job and you do it seamlessly. Without you, no other environment would function and thrive.

I know you hear how much you are appreciated from those in leadership. It’s one way I’ve rationalized not writing to you. I’m just a face among many. There are thousands just like me. Unfortunately, we avoid writing letters like this one because of fear. The fear that I will leave someone or something out. The fear of not saying what I really feel…of not being able to wrap words around the impact you have had and continue to have on the lives of those you don’t even know. The next few sentences sum up the essence of this letter.

You need to know that, because of you, my life is better. My children are better. My family is better. Don’t you see, your commitment to show up week after week is changing the world outside our door. It’s enriching lives and encouraging families towards each other instead of away. What you’re doing is being the change that most only talk about and rarely do. You are leading by example and because of that, people are being reached in ways that would not have been possible were it not for your decision to serve.

Evermore thank you. From the depths of my heart….I am truly grateful.

Signature

4 thoughts on “For the Volunteer

  1. Thank you so much for this sweet letter! I was tearing up and I rarely cry:) You got me started in WL from the first Next we attended 3 years ago in June! I have loved every minute and it is the only day I get up early!! Love my 4 year olds:) I love my team and my coach and Jessica. I come home with great stories each week from the mouth of those sweet babes! Thanks again!
    Cheryl

  2. Joy,

    Great thing you have done here. I hope you print this out and give it to the people who are behind those titles.

    I know most people do not volunteer to get the thanks but I do believe it can be so encouraging. I think we say thanks way too little and we tend to ignore the simple things that are done week in and week out. I try to write notes of thanks to people for the things they do here at work but I have not carried that over to our church. I think I should do that. I shall start writing thank you notes to specific people for what they do. I think I will do it anonymously too.

    I do know how encouraging it would be to get such a note. I do not see it done very often at all. I think everyone likes to know they make a difference. We should tell them.

    Sometimes I have been surprised by the impact of taking the time to write a person a note. I write notes sometimes to people when they retire. When one guy I worked with retired I wrote him a letter and told him all the things I appreciated about him and mailed it to his house. A couple of years later I was in a doctor’s office waiting room and I saw this guy come in with his wife. I overheard her say to him “oh he’s the guy that wrote you that letter”. My soul cried right there when I realized that the note meant something not only to him but his wife as well.

    • Thank you so much Mark!
      I should print it and hang it in the volunteer room or something similar so the vols can see it.
      That’s very cool about the couple. We never know the ripple effects our actions have.
      And yes, I believe that everyone wants to know they make a difference.

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