The volunteer experiences at Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) can be described like snowflakes -- no two are alike, even when they are in the same program. What is the same for every volunteer is their commitment to a season of life that is guided by the three core pillars of CAP’s Volunteer Program: community, spirituality, and service.
“These three pillars undergird everything we do in the program,” said Nick Hites, coordinator of CAP’s Volunteer Life in Johnson, Martin, and Floyd Counties.
CAP’s intentional community draws volunteers together in one space as they live out their lives and fulfill their service in Appalachia. It is an essential part of the volunteer experience where individuals of various backgrounds, ages, and stages in life live under one roof and learn lessons of vulnerability, patience, respect, and what it means to have a collective voice. Not only do volunteers serve people in Appalachian communities, but they have the opportunity to live among them and see them in the community.
“The bonds and experiences that are forged when volunteers choose to be vulnerable in community can change the course of their entire service experience,” Hites said.
The pillar of spirituality leans into the practice and routine of reflection and contemplation. Whether that reflection is rooted in a traditional spiritual way through devotions and prayer or through personal quiet time like reading or going for a walk, the practice of spirituality for volunteers gives intentional time for growth and introspection from their experiences. In their intentional community, volunteers live out their spirituality and support each other through care and concern during their season of service.
“Often we say that service is fairly self-explanatory, however the two pillars of community and spirituality really hold up service,” Hites said. “Without community and spirituality, our passion and drive for service would be lacking.”
The impact a single volunteer makes when they answer the call to the mountains is monumental in CAP’s continued mission of building hope, transforming lives, and sharing Christ’s love through service in Appalachia. The Volunteer Program’s pillar of service takes form in one of the nine human services priorities CAP addresses through our programming: food insecurity, clothing, home repair, family advocacy, early childhood education, youth, counseling, disaster relief, and elderly. Through each service volunteers help fight poverty in Appalachia and meet the basic needs of children, their families, and seniors in the region.
“There are so many things that we would love for volunteers to take with them when their service time is up, however I would say the biggest thing is that they continue serving,” Hites said. “Many people come having already fostered a love for service somewhere else in their lives while others come and will hopefully leave wanting to serve others more and more. We love and serve because Christ loved and served us first.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at CAP, visit christianapp.org/volunteer.