“Hope is a muscle. It’s a choice. It is a vigorous choice, to see what is wrong and what needs healing and needs repair and needs our attention and also to keep our hearts and our imaginations and our energy oriented towards what we want to build, what we want to create, what we’re walking towards.” Krista Tippett, On Being
Recruiting volunteers during a global pandemic is strange. It requires a large amount of hope in a time that feels a bit hopeless. And yet? It feels like an extension of the work that we do every day.
Becoming a one-year volunteer takes a radical leap of faith. The people who come here look at the difficulties faced in Appalachia and they see hope. Hope that there can be comfort in times of trouble. That making a home safe, warm, and dry can make an important difference in the life of someone living in substandard housing. That sitting with someone experiencing loneliness alleviates suffering.
I recently listened to an episode of the On Being podcast where Rebecca Sonit said that people have got to love hope more than certainty. “Hopefulness to me is not optimism where people believe that everything is fine and we can just sit back. That’s too much like pessimism…it’s coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know what will happen, and that there is maybe room for us to intervene.” Volunteers become part of the fabric of our organization. They bring hope to uncertain situations.
As much as the volunteer experience brings to us, we also know that it has a lasting impact on those who serve. Time spent here brings Appalachia’s story to people who might not otherwise have had a chance to visit. Relationships forged here help will remind our volunteers of patience, compassion, and resilience far beyond their year of service.
Why did I want to be a volunteer recruiter? Because volunteering has made me more compassionate, more understanding, and more patient. Because I believe that I’ve served Christ as I’ve served His children. Volunteering has brought me hope and helped me share it with others.
In this time of uncertainty, I am certain that serving others will continue to change lives. Sonit says it best when she says that, “When all the ordinary divides and patterns are shattered, people step up to become their brothers’ keepers." She continues, “purposefulness and connectedness bring joy even amidst death, chaos, fear, and loss.”
If you are considering service in Appalachia, please contact us. It’s my belief that connecting to service will bring you hope and it will also bring you joy.