By Bridget McCormack
Growth takes time. Relationships take time. Building a community of care – one that lifts, gives hope to, and walks alongside people in need – takes time. It also takes grace and the belief that when everyone’s gifts are brought to the table, miraculous things start to happen.
My CAP journey has been its own lesson in growth. It started when I was a college senior who traveled with a group of friends to Eastern Kentucky for the first time. The next step was becoming a long-term volunteer caseworker in the Elderly Services Program that served Owsley County. Later, I returned with students for WorkFest as a campus minister. Another step was working with Volunteer Alumni and partners who have given and continue to give so much of themselves to the work and mission of CAP.
Each leg of the journey, each step along the way, has been filled with moments of both incredible beauty and heartbreak, exciting discovery and peaceful tranquility, tears of joy and tears of sorrow. On any given day, these moments of growth might feel as colorful and exuberant as the redbuds in April, or as frightening and unpredictable as a creek on the rise.
One thing is certain, though. Whatever shape our individual growth takes, our ability to learn, love, and thrive happens in community. It comes along when we shake off the things that hold us back or keep us separated and put on Christ. When we come to not only recognize ourselves in our neighbors – when we recognize God in them, too – we grow. When we bring whatever humble offerings we have to give and combine them with the gifts of others and, like the story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus makes it enough.
As for me, my life is incalculably richer for nights spent laughing around a giant dinner table in the Jackson Volunteer House with folks who have completely different backgrounds and experiences. My life is fuller for long afternoons spent on front porches with seniors in Owsley County, hearing the stories of their lives and getting to love their families. My life is more joyful because of the thousands of people who have come to Kentucky to serve God and one another, and for the ways in which each of them has had a profound impact on the lives they have touched.
The phrase “life happens best in community” used to adorn the wall in one of CAP’s volunteer houses. For as long as I have been blessed to count myself among the thousands of people who make up the CAP community, I have witnessed the numerous ways it makes so many lives better. This is a community that challenges and encourages us – employees, volunteers, participants, partners, and supporters – toward constant growth. May we all continue to grow in love, faith, and community.