The Meaning in Volunteering

Our volunteers mean so much to our organization, our clients, and our communities. We want to share this letter written to our Chief Operating Officer, Jason Gorey, from one of our great No One Left Behind volunteers, Katie:

Hi Jason,

I hope you have had a nice weekend. I just wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to serve a family through No One Left Behind.

Working with No One Left Behind has truly been an answer to a prayer.  A few weeks ago on a Sunday night, my husband and I prayed for an avenue to serve those in need in a way suited to our blessings and talents.  At 7:30 AM on Monday morning,  I received a phone call from my cousin asking if there was any chance that I could help a family that directly supported our soldiers in Afghanistan and had to flee due to their bravery.  By Tuesday at 3:00 PM, I was driving the two hours to their house with an IKEA bunk bed and bags full of pillows, blankets, and clothing packed into my car.

In the craze of coordinating funds, supplies, and schedules, I had not yet paused to reflect on the type of situation into which I was about to enter.  The family welcomed me into their home with plentiful words and gestures of thanks and excitement.   When the mother answered the door, she exclaimed that No One Left Behind and I were an answer to their prayers.  Little did she know that her family was an answer to mine.   She explained that for weeks her husband and she had been contemplating returning to their home country, but as a last resort she reached out to NOLB.  She told me that we were changing their lives.

That evening, I took the mother and her three children on a shopping trip to Wal Mart to purchase a list of essentials for their home.  The children were so excited about the trip that the four-year-old daughter insisted on coming, despite it being past her bedtime.   Five minutes into the car ride, she fell asleep, and her mother created a makeshift bed for her with pillows and blankets in one of our shopping carts.  We perused the aisles, pushing along the rolling “bed” and filling three shopping carts with items from the NOLB  “wish list.”  A trip like this, that I often take so much for granted, was changing their life.

As we drove home, the mother explained how she walks her two boys daily to and from school.  The boys walk in their ragged shoes, and she usually carries the young girl who gets tired quickly.  The boys shared that they would love to have bikes so they could ride to school with all of their classmates as opposed to walking behind them.  The family thanked me profusely, and I returned the appreciation, sharing how they too were answering my prayers.  As I drove home that night, I was filled with energy, invigorated by the immense gratitude for the seemingly “simple” act of a trip to Wal Mart.

A week later, I returned to the family after receiving a message from the mother that they needed assistance assembling the bunk bed.  I arrived at 8:30 PM, and we spent almost 4 hours putting together the bed.  In their excitement to have a bed for the first time in 9 months, the children stayed up with us anxious to help in any way they could, from holding tools to offering me tea and water.  Throughout our evenings together, the family shared with me a desire for my husband and me to show them around the nearby city.  We are planning to make this trip in January.

After the night of furniture assembly, my husband and I decided to turn our own holiday housewarming party into a gift drive for the family.  We informed our friends of the family’s needs and requests, and our friends then spread the word to other friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  My husband and I were astounded by their generosity!  We are planning to deliver the full car (possibly 2 cars!) load of donated toys, clothing, and home goods this Monday after work.   The carload includes two youth bicycles that I was able to find on Craig’s List this past week.  My husband and I cannot wait to see the children’s smiles when we deliver an early Christmas to their home.

It has truly been a pleasure to work with No One Left Behind to help support this family.  My husband and I are so grateful to God for answering our prayer, and we look forward to continuing to support this family and grow in friendship with them as they adjust to life in America.

Thank you again, and God Bless!