In the cavernous warehouse, volunteers rolled thick layers of battleship gray paint onto the walls, the crew of volunteer painters perched high and low, rolling and dabbing until every inch was covered.
Nearby, another crew stacked donated items on wood pallets and wrapped them in heavy plastic, then rolled each one into the back of a tractor trailer, temporary storage for the soon-to-open Grace Bridge Resale Shop in Frisco.
Carter Morris, president and CEO of Grace Bridge and a former minister at Prestonwood, can’t help but smile anytime he sees a group of volunteers show up at a Grace Bridge project.
While Grace Bridge is privately funded, “ultimately, we’re still volunteer-driven,” Carter said. “There’s no way to do the amount of things we do without having hundreds of volunteers coming through every month.
“Our churches are a large part of that,” he said. “They send the army out, and (the volunteers) get to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
So the arrival of 40 or so Prestonwood volunteers on a recent Saturday was a welcome sight—especially if those volunteers had what Carter calls “a meaningful experience” during their few hours of work.
That, Carter said, is the secret to keeping volunteers who return a couple of times a month to help and to be filled with the joy of helping families in need.
“What they’re doing is going beyond themselves, and they can find meaning in that,” he said. “But the biggest thing (for non-profits) is consistency. We’re always here. There’s always a need. And when people come, we make sure they have an impactful experience every time.”
The Grace Bridge Resale Shop was just one of 10 sites served by some 400 Prestonwood members in what Director of Local Missions Mike Beeson called Serve Saturday under the Prestonwood Cares umbrella.
Mike expects the number of volunteers for future Serve Saturday outreach opportunities will grow. And he hopes that groups and Bible Fellowships will seek mission opportunities on their own.
“I don’t know how they selected the three or so dozen classes” that provided this year’s volunteers, Mike said. “But ultimately, a year from now, two years from now, it would be my prayer that we have a Prestonwood Cares Weekend and several thousand people show up organically at different places.”
“I’ve had five conversations with classes that weren’t asked to participate this year and they wanted to know how they can go out and serve somewhere,” Mike said.
Charles Shrauner, Director of the Difference Makers Bible Fellowship, was part of the work crew at Grace Bridge Resale Shop, and was particularly pleased to see the crowd that came to help.
“I thought it was a great turnout for our class,” Charles said. “When you compare it to our attendance on Sundays, this was like a 100-percent turnout. It was really encouraging to see the class come out like that.”
It was a somewhat smaller crowd at another resale store in Lewisville, where Jean Manning and Carolyn Turner of the Saturday Night In-Depth Bible Fellowship carefully straightened racks of women’s and children’s clothing, row after row.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever been here,” Carolyn said of the Christian Community Action shop on State Highway 121. “But as a class, we try to do various things. We have other programs, too, and I’m trying to get one started to get people to visit the homebound.
“We all need that contact.”
“The opportunities to help are incredible,” Jean added. “The only thing you need is for the people to turn out.”
David Garrison, a member of the Legacy Builders Bible Fellowship, is always on the lookout for volunteer opportunities for his class.
“We’ve had some contact with Grace Bridge before,” he said, “helping out with Christmas baskets and things like that. We had a good turnout last Christmas—I’d say we had half the class there.”
So for Prestonwood Cares, David went to the Grace Bridge Resale Shop where he joined the painting crew. He spent much of his time wielding a roller attached to a very long pole to reach the highest spots in the warehouse.
And like others who did the same work, he felt the effects the next day. But he enjoyed the opportunity nonetheless.
“I liked it a lot,” David said. “Of course, a lot of times I get to do things that are really in my skill set—that’s not necessarily painting. But I liked helping out.”
With hundreds of people volunteering, partner ministries had a willing workforce available. The next step is making Serve Saturday even bigger.
Every Bible Fellowship is different, Charles said, but he offered some ideas for getting even more people involved.
“When you look at where our class is in their life cycle, some have kids in high school and some have no kids at home,” Charles said. “So they’re available.”
Families with younger kids might have other obligations, he said.
Members of the Difference Makers class also received several e-mails, the first one several weeks before Prestonwood Cares outreach began. Class leadership had already discussed the various opportunities and decided that the Grace Bridge Resale Shop would be a good fit.
“That was the big thing—the leadership got it. And the leadership’s commitment to help sets an example for the rest of the class,” Charles said. “That’s why classes have good attendance—if the leadership has bought into what the class is doing, the class buys in, too.”
And the fact that everyone seemed to have a great time helping surely didn’t hurt.
Mike said he visited five of the 10 Prestonwood Cares sites, and his last stop was the Children’s Hunger Fund in Dallas, where about 100 volunteers from several Bible Fellowships turned out. They worked hard, he said, but there was something else, too—the joy of giving and caring.
“They had a blast!” Mike said.
And they’re looking forward to the next opportunity.
Published: May 10, 2017
Author: Michael Young
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