by Jakki McDonald
As Bethesda Lutheran (Eugene, Oregon) prepares for Bold Women’s Day 2016, I am once again in awe of the women in our church who do what they do without accolades, applause or any expectations of pats-on-the-back praise. These are the women who passionately volunteer with their time and talents.
We asked women to tell us about the volunteer work they do outside the church so we could celebrate them on Bold Women’s Day Sunday, Feb. 28. It was difficult to them to open up about volunteer work they do outside our church walls, and some insisted they not be identified.
A woman at a recent women’s ministry team meeting, said, “In my generation we were raised not to brag or bring attention to ourselves so it’s understandable why some might not want to talk about their volunteer work.”
It wasn’t until an email was sent that I learned of the many giving hearts in our congregation. After the email went out, the response was overwhelming. Perhaps it was the guilt tripping that led them to reply or the quasi anonymity that provided some type of safety for those who were uncomfortable tooting their own horn
Whatever the reason what a joy it was to read about so many doing good works outside the church—not to build get-to-Heaven points or make themselves look good—but simply because they felt called, were obedient to God’s call and followed through.
- Several women purchase food and prepare a meal for a homeless youth program in our community once a month. From their hearts and from their own pocketbooks, this quiet ministry has been going on for several years. It was only recently our church made the decision to support the program financially.
- Another member supports Lions Club in collecting and distributing eyeglasses to other countries for those who can’t afford them.
- For many years, a long-time member has organized the Red Cross mobile unit for blood donations.
- A number of women work with the local food bank organizing and distributing much needed nourishment for so many in our neighborhood who fall below the poverty level.
- Some of the younger women have taken on the task of getting donations and distributing gifts, gift cards, toys and food to families with no resources to celebrate Christmas.
- For years one of our members has organized Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child collections for the shoe box ministry.
- Many volunteer at our community hospital sharing a friendly smile at the hospital’s gift shop or playing the piano.
- Relief Nursery provides day care and parenting classes for those families at risk. A mother of two volunteers her time as a board member.
- A former police officer uses her construction skills to build Habitat for Humanity homes.
- A dental hygienist offers free early morning exercise classes before she goes to work.
- Several read to young children at local elementary schools through the county’s SMART program.
- An artist offers free instruction in her home; one woman has volunteered as a Girl Scout leader since her now 18-year-old daughter was small; several give their hearts and time to care for foster children.
- One woman facilitates an Al-anon group twice a month; another delivers meals to lonely elder folks through the Meals on Wheels program; another volunteers four days a week at a community center for seniors; a woman affected by abortion assists in healing retreats for other women and men hurting from abortion.
- Our local University of Oregon’s Daisy Duck Club assists the athletic department at the school. One of our members prepares info packs for track meets, baking cookies for sports teams and chairing the committee for the volleyball team. For more than 30 years she advocated for the poorest of the poor through our county’s Legal Aid. The local library benefits from her organization skills in chairing the yearly book sale.
- A young newer member of our church is involved in our county’s A Family for Every Child program that searches out adoptive families for children in foster care.
- Another young woman works with behaviorally challenged pet dogs belonging to homeless and mentally ill clients at a shelter.
This is only a small sampling of what goes on in our community with the many bold women of Bethesda Lutheran.
On Bold Women’s Day, three women will speak about their volunteer work and we’ll recognize volunteer groups and individuals by asking them to stand. A list of volunteers and organizations represented with accompanying brochures about the organization will be in the lobby of the church.
In addition, we have teen girls from our confirmation and high school group that will provide special music. As we did last year we will use Women of the ELCA Bold Women’s Day resources for prayer and readings.
To step outside of a comfort zone to help others, to give precious time to a program that may break your heart or to use a specific skill you imagined not to be very important—those are the women of my church, the Church. Like the bold women of the Bible, we continue in their steps doing what needs to be done with love in our hearts and hope in our souls.
Jakki McDonald is a member of Bethesda Lutheran Church. She’s the adoptive mother of a young adult special needs daughter and two loving step-daughters. Her husband is a computer programmer and “the nicest nerd you’ll ever meet.” She teaches water aerobics and is development director for a non-profit that sponsors healing retreats for women and men affected by abortion.
Check out Bold Women’s Day ideas, certificates, Facebook timeline photos and resources.
Photo Chuan Chew, used with permission, Creative Commons