When people and causes come together, good things can happen. At Connellsville Area Community Ministries where 100 volunteers give life-sustaining help and hope to people who have fallen on hard times, you might say goodness is overflowing.
Last year alone, through its Food Pantry, Crisis Ministry, Care and Share Boutique and other programs, 4,395 boxes of food were distributed; 306 pieces of medical equipment went to people in need; 212 families received clothing, food, furniture and household items; and 112 families received help paying utilities and rent. And that’s just for starters.
“The volunteers are our life blood. We couldn’t open up on a day without them,” said executive director, Chip Rowan.
To find out why these givers do what they do, let’s meet a few of them –
Shirley Peterson is placing price tags on toys to be sold in the Care and Share Boutique. She began volunteering here after losing her husband. That’s when she met Linda, another widow, and the two became fast friends. “I told her I think we have a lot in common!
I like the Christian atmosphere. It’s a nice place to work. Even the boss is nice!”
Ben is 14 years old and is here for the first time. While he’s volunteering to fulfill his role in his high school’s Junior Honor Society, he’s discovering his own role in making a difference. “I feel good that I’m doing something for someone and to know they are getting something they need.” Before his four hour shift ended, Ben helped to pack 70 boxes of food for the pantry.
Haley Moreland is a Penn State, Fayette Human Development and Family Studies major. As part of a class assignment, she’s sorting donations of clothes and items. “I feel self-satisfaction helping people who can’t help themselves. It feels good providing for others.”
And in this 21,000 square foot facility, there is plenty for him to do.
“God has blessed me with my job of 36 years at West Penn Power. When I retired, I wanted to give back. So I come here two or three days a week to help any way that I can.”
Maria Nascimben volunteers for The Salvation Army, one of CACM’s partner organizations. “I’m excited to be here to select items for a yard sale that will allow us provide help to the community all year long.
I’m financially stable with a roof over my head. I have a car and bills that are paid. Lots of people are less fortunate. This is the good that I can do.”
Craig Grimm picks up and delivers donated furniture, helps in the Food Pantry and wherever needed. “Connellsville Community Ministries changed my life. They took me in and changed me into the person I am today. You have to want to be changed for the better. It makes a person feel good to give back.”
Janie Fabian, who is pricing items for the Care and Share Boutique, has come here five days a week for the past three years. “It gets me out of the house and I’m helping people. It’s like family here. If I don’t come in, I feel like I’m letting people down.”
I sometimes help a customer find something in the Boutique, but mostly, I work behind the scenes.
The volunteers here do what we do to help others. That’s what life is about.”
“I’m starting my life over. I was in prison for two years and recently got out. The ministry is helping me. It makes me feel good to help others.”
Jack Love manages the Food Pantry and has been a volunteer here for 22 years. He’s in charge of the ordering and inventory of thousands of pounds of food that feeds more than 2,000 people each month. For his volunteer service, Jack was recently named a Jefferson Award winner.
“Once you start giving to other people, it does something to you and you want to keep giving. I used to be shy, but volunteering here has made me more outgoing and has improved my relationships. I enjoy working with people to make a difference.”
Cris McDonough was standing outside the downtown ministry building three years ago to watch a parade, when she said, “It was like God lifted me by the back of the neck and was pulling me to serve here.
She began volunteering, using her typing and organizational skills, and six months later was hired as Chip’s executive assistant. Now, Cris has a job she loves.
“There is ministry happening through the back door. We see healing in our volunteers,” said Chip. For those they are here to serve, he remarked, “We are an extension of the church in the community. Sometimes, we’re that last chance for people when they have nowhere else to go.”
To become part of the good happening at Connellsville Area Community Ministries, contact volunteer coordinator, Rita Smith at 724-626-1120.
Do you volunteer in any capacity for your church or community? If so, join us on Saturday, April 16th, at the Connellsville Volunteer Appreciation Reception, an open house being held from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Free Library. This National Volunteer Week event is a celebration of you and all those who give selflessly to make our community stronger!