A guest post from longtime volunteer Judy Newlin:
I became involved 18 years ago with Greensboro Urban Ministry (GUM) when the Girl Scout troop I led provided weekly babysitting for a young mother who was a GUM client and a student in nursing school. Our help gave her time to study and ultimately helped her graduate. Seeing the seeds of giving back grow in such an important way for this young woman was so exciting!
As a school teacher for 29 years, I sowed many seeds and tended the seeds of volunteers that grew into great opportunities for my students. Especially where children are concerned, everyone wants to help. Sometimes, however, people don’t know how to help and be effective.
That’s why an organization like GUM is so valuable. GUM has a longtime trusted relationship with the community. GUM provides the structure and flexibility for people to turn passion into practical action. In some way, small or large, we can all help.
Since those babysitting days, I’ve tried my hand at many things through GUM – including working on the Partnership Village Advisory Board and on the GUM Board of Directors. Each experience has brought me a new perspective on the work I want to do to try to open doors for children and parents living in poverty.
My church, Guilford College UMC, is one of several active at Partnership Village. On Monday evenings, we provide dinner and Bible study. I work with the kids, and it’s only a moment before somebody runs in and wants to sit on your lap. They’re smiling and we’re laughing together – it’s all so much about the relationships.
I volunteered with some of the teens at Partnership Village on a Habitat build a few years ago and was struck by a moment on the crew one day. One of the young men stopped his work and said, “You know, I think one day I can do this. I can own a Habitat house.”
I’m not sure it had crossed his mind to own a home. No one he or his friends knew had ever owned a home. Experience and exposure are so important, and yet can be so hard to come by when you are living in poverty. It’s easy to forget these realities when you live in a more affluent part of Guilford County.
We just have to help people get connected, and there’s such power in numbers. At Partnership Village, our successes come through the combined efforts of many congregations, volunteers and staff. If there’s a challenge, it’s met – we don’t always know how or why, but it’s met. Someone finds a church bus; a couple finds, cleans and mends yard-sale sleeping bags. Someone else raises money for swimsuits and tennis shoes. Before you know it, we’ve got a whole group of kids going to sleep-away camp for the first time.
Teamwork has made it possible to dream and figure it out together – and together, we can make a big difference.