National Volunteer Week 2022 "Empathy in Action"
In a well-deserved week of recognition, HOME acknowledges the hundreds of volunteers who support our community-based approach to assisting at-risk families in Somerset County. Our volunteers have played an invaluable role in helping us provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and community outreach for 30 years. Volunteering provides empowerment and can benefit us all in individual ways. We celebrate the many volunteers whose contribution to HOME is reflected in the victories of our families as they work towards independence.
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MAKE AN IMPACT VOLUNTEER TODAY!
It has been my privilege to be heading up the HOME emergency shelter program at First United Methodist Church in Somerville since 2017. The FUMCS congregation has been so supportive of the HOME program. So many memories flood into my mind as I rewrite this. I’ve so enjoyed rocking a sleepy baby to sleep, giving a weary Mom a much-needed rest or observing volunteers playing with the children, while others have dropped off food even though they have put in a long day at work. There are volunteers who would give of their time to be a friendly listening ear or provide much needed coats. Others who would come out on a cold night to fix the heat in the Church. The families, on occasion, have commented that they have felt comfortable, safe and unjudged. That has been our goal. It is so important when hosting to show empathy. I know personally, I’ve found that people need to be shown understanding and kindness. Many times, you don’t need to really say much but to listen. I’m so grateful to all the volunteers at FUMCS that show this type of kindness and compassion. They go out of their way to not only try and understand the person’s predicament but to provide an environment to allow them to meet the challenges they face ahead. Thank you to all the hardworking volunteers. Johanna, First United Methodist Church
I cannot resolve the problem of homeless, but I can coordinate a week of safe, dignified overnight shelter and meals for a group of HOME guests. I cannot bring peace to the nation, but I can provide fellowship and empathy as I act as a host for those guests. I cannot feed the world, but I can bring a weekly meal to ensure at least one family has food for an evening. The HOME program allows small acts by many volunteers to add up to big benefits for the clients they serve. If each one of us does one small act consistently, imagine how much closer we come to achieving those loftier goals.
Is hosting the guests wonderful? Sometimes. Is coordinating a hosting week fulfilling? Just look at my grey hairs. Do the recipients love my meals? I don’t know, but no one has sent compliments to the chef. It doesn’t matter, because it’s not about me. What matters is meeting clients’ basic needs with dignity and respect as those clients work with HOME toward their personal resolution of homelessness and hunger, leading to a sense of peace. I can contribute to that effort in a variety of simple ways. That’s why I volunteer with HOME. Lynne Ann, Pluckemin Presbyterian Church
What I have realized through volunteering at HOME for the past few years, is that through small actions by myself and others the lives of those in need have been transformed.
We have witnessed families move from homelessness to independence. What was needed to bridge that gap is the support of volunteers.
As volunteers we not only get to help others, but we appreciate what we have more and realize it’s the small things in life that matter.
Breda, St. Elizabeth St. Brigid Roman Catholic Church
For most of us, the thought of home is a place of warmth, safety, security and basic comfort – a place to which we can return, no matter where we have found ourselves throughout the day and regardless of what we have experienced. We know all too well that this cannot be taken for granted, because not everyone has “a place of warmth and security” – to rest, to restore, and from which to step out again into the world each day.
As coordinators at Middlebush Reformed Church for a number of years, we have been so blessed to meet folks who are working so hard to find a HOME. The staff who “keep things running” invest an incredible amount of time, knowledge, and use of resources in carrying out the mission of the organization. However, their compassion, sense of humor and people skills are so very much a part of what they are about, along with the efforts of making sure that their clients are well cared for during the sometimes long and arduous process of finding a home.
For us, our involvement in HOME through our congregation has been truly a labor of love. Meeting parents, children and singles in a variety of situations has been enriching in so many ways. As folks have shared their hopes, successes and disappointments along the way, we have been blessed by their trust and expressions of gratitude. The group of volunteers at MRC are generous beyond expectation; their empathy, time, willingness to listen, and genuine interest in all our guests is so apparent and so heartwarming – all of this and culinary talent as well! This gathering of all of us, working with each other to provide a comfortable stay for the HOME clients has undoubtedly formed a bond of affection and gratitude toward one another. We are thankful for HOME of Somerset County and for all of the congregations that combine to work tirelessly to care for those on the path to finding a place to call “home.” This is indeed a significant part of what God has called us to do.
Sallye & Greg, Middlebush Reformed Church