By Helena Gallant
Wondering about the title of my blog post? Well, I will get to that, after I tell my backstory. You see, my involvement with CAP and Appalachian Kentucky all started with Reverend Ralph Beiting, as most things have around here. For me though, my interest in Rev. Beiting's mission in Appalachia began when I was about 10 years old. I found one of his books in my house, and I became captivated by the people of Appalachia, and wanted to experience this place for myself. This dream was put on the back burner for a while, due to high school, work, college, and just life in general.
But the defining moment for me? Fast forward a few years, to my being 13, and having just listened to Rev. Beiting preach at my church. Turns out, there is a mission center in Louisa, Kentucky (about 2 hours from where I serve), and the people who run the program came from my church. Anyway, Rev. Beiting had quite a way with words, and an obvious passion for his work. So, I complimented him on his sermon after mass, and he turns to me and asks for my name. He then went on to say (after having read my mind seemingly), that everything was going to be okay, and that God was and is watching over me. This had a profound effect on me, as you might imagine.
Fast forward again (last time, promise), to this past summer, when I volunteered with the mission center for a week in July. I was super nervous, because at this point I had already committed to serve with CAP and AmeriCorps for a year, and if I didn't like Appalachia, what was I going to do? I know how cliché this sounds, but one look at the scenery, and the community that thrives here, and I felt like I was at home.
Community: this word and what it means is the last part of my story here (for now), and the most important part, if you ask me. During that week, I felt a strong sense of community, from the participants that we served with, to the mission center staff, to the other volunteer groups that came with us. Community is the biggest part of what we do here at CAP. My service site community, my house community, my church community. The one thing that I always look for when I come to a new place (and I'm sure I'm not alone in this) is a sense of community, of family. And that is what CAP has, and what it is known for. For creating a sense, a very real and true, community, for participants, volunteers, and staff alike. And that is why I chose CAP. And that is why I will do my best, each and every day, to be a community for everyone that I come across.
The answer to the title of my blog? I used to work in a nursing home, and if you've ever done that, it's a job that can easily wear you down. So, my mom (a very wise lady) used to say to me as I was leaving the house: don't forget, this is your ministry, and this is what God has called you to do. Hence the title: I am living my ministry, and doing what I'm called to do, every day with CAP.
Helena is serving as an AmeriCorps Food Pantry Caseworker and a long-term volunteer at CAP's Grateful Bread Food Pantry. She is a member of the Mt. Vernon Volunteer Community. Opinions expressed in volunteer blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CAP or the Volunteer Program.