Showing Love Through Service Work

One of my most memorable experiences of doing service work was going up to Asheville, North Carolina during a spring break retreat with my college's religious life program. In total, all nine of us, including the group leader, met for the first time that Saturday before going. We all crowded into a small van with no idea of what was in store for our week.

As it turns out, our school had located a large old house for us to reside in during our time in the Montreat College area just north of Asheville. As we settled in, each picking our own rooms, we met Aimee head of a local presbyterian church in the area.

She informed us that our next five days would go as follows:

• Wake up early (usually 7am or so). Eat breakfast (if you do) and pack a lunch.
• Service work until noon or 1pm, with what we were doing varying each day.
• Lunch.
• More service work depending on the day … or … exploring Asheville.
• 6PM Groups of 4 take turns making dinner for everyone or cleaning up.
• 7PM Group reflection time. Bible verse and story included.
• 8PM Free Time.

During that week we helped clean a dilapidated church in a run down community; played with kids at a children's home; painted (walls), cleaned, and cooked at a women's shelter; hung and organized clothing and toiletries for a store that provides financial assistance to a homeless shelter; and sorted through canned food for the hungry.

We were so busy that week I didn't even think about how I had no internet. I read a favorite childhood book Ramona Quimby, Age 8; sat on the porch swing late into the night chatting with friends from home; watched movies and explored the beautifully wooded college campus with the group (an unofficial, unguided tour); and more than anything, simply found myself in awe at how amazing these women who were giving up their spring break to provide to the community were. Plus. it was shocking to see how many ways there were to provide service to the community in a town a mere 4 hours from my home!

In the time since, I haven't taken the opportunity to provide nearly as much service as I did that one week. I know it's important, but we get busy and are trying to pay off debt… Really one excuse after another.

If you haven't had a chance to think about giving back to your community in a while, I encourage you to think about doing so today, this week, this month, or this year. There are so many organizations you could help out with … and even some that I haven't mentioned in this post. A family friend used to take blankets to the homeless in our city on particularly cold, winter nights. (Although I must encourage you to be careful doing things like that!) You could also donate to the church or provide used clothing (in good condition) to a shelter or Goodwill. I've even heard of people paying for the car behind them in a fast food line! (Making someone's day could be considered charity! Ever heard of the movie Pay It Forward?)

What are some of your favorite ways to provide service work for your community? Have you ever been on a retreat, like the one I shared about in this post? 

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1 comment:

  1. That sounds like such a wonderful experience to have! My hometown really rallied around my family during my mom's cancer journey and death. Someone anonymously donated housecleaning services to my parents twice a month. My mom's cancer treatments were an hour away, and while my younger brother and my dad drove her most days, family friends rotated every week to drive as well. When she entered hospice care, we received more food that we could even eat.


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