VISTA Year of Service

Hello Friends! To those of you who do not know me my name is Jess and I serve as an AmeriCorps Vista at Hearth Homes. The Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program places individuals in nonprofit organizations and public agencies to support efforts to fight poverty. I have been so blessed by the opportunity to serve at Hearth Homes as their Volunteer Coordinator this past year.

It is crazy to think that I have already completed my first year at Hearth Homes. This year has been full of diving into the unknown, stepping out-or rather leaping out- of my comfort zone, and having my heart melted by the love for the people I serve. As a volunteer coordinator I have gotten the opportunity to wear many hats and gain new skill-sets I never imagined pursuing. I get to see firsthand the power of community and the selfless service of countless volunteers. In this busy world of ours it is often a struggle to make time for hobbies, friends, and family; let alone volunteering. Yet, somehow there is always a steady stream of people willing and excited to bless our mission that is focused on providing safe and supportive housing to homeless women and their children.

 This year I have met awesome volunteers with various skill sets including maintenance, décor, event planning, childcare, mentoring and so much more! In these twelve months volunteers have served over 5,000 hours at Hearth Homes; which is equal to 115,000 dollars of essentially donated time and expertise! However, it is so much more than time and skill volunteers selflessly give. It is their hearts. Their presence here states to these families that they are worthy of support and love. They are worthy of a safe home away from the shackles of abuse and addiction. Often volunteers will state, “I take so much more from volunteering than I give.” Whether through lessons learned, love received, or self confidence gained; volunteering is an awesome way to challenge yourself and give back.

I am thrilled to work alongside some amazing staff who are striving to better the community by breaking cycles of abuse, homelessness and addiction, in a Faith based environment. Staff is always brainstorming new and innovative ways of raising awareness, fundraising, and providing life skills to the families we serve. A few of the key elements to our program are authenticity and grace. Our goal is to break down the masks that people hide behind and get to what is truly weighing on the heart. In other words, instead of focusing on the surface of the iceberg, our hope is to transform what is underneath and encourage lasting change. As staff we work to model this authenticity through removing our own masks and entering the sometimes difficult and scary world of vulnerability. Though it may be uncomfortable for a little while, when you live life in the light and speak truth in love it starts breaking the chains of darkness.

I just want to close by saying a sincere thank you to Hearth Homes donors, board members, community partners, and all volunteers who are daring to reach out a hand into the darkness to pull others into the light. You are true life changers and make this world a brighter place!