Think you know what it’s like to serve as a volunteer? Think again!

Volunteering with Jesus Was Homeless may look different than it does with other organizations. That’s because in most cases, our volunteers create a culture of family and relationships.

Working together on a shared project fulfills the spirit of community we’re all looking for. That’s especially true with our Thursday morning volunteers, who prepare food items for that evening’s meal deliveries. Many of them tell us volunteering meets a special need in their life.

For example, say there’s a retiree whose spouse has passed away. Volunteering with Jesus Was Homeless introduces them to a new family of people. And that connection means these new friends do things together and for one another beyond their weekly volunteer time.

All different kinds of folks serve as volunteers. We have retirees, business people, even employees of companies whose workers do community service hours. We have moms with their kids, singles, divorced people and young families.

What makes such a wide array of people come together? It’s partly a response to our times.

If you go back 20 or 30 years ago, before we had cell phones and hi-tech gadgets and all those things, we lived a slower pace. Social activities were often held outside at community events, such as baseball and soccer games. We chatted with each other and became connected that way. Today, our neighbors open their garage door, pull their car inside and close the door behind them. We don’t really see the folks who live beside us anymore.

As a result, many people are lonely. We’ve gotten so busy because of everything that needs to be done, we don’t stop and soak in the relationships around us. We just go, go, go! Between staying so involved with all the things that need to be done while also feeling isolated from those around us, a good many people are lonely. It’s like being in an auditorium of 5,000 people and feeling as though you’re the only one there.

We all long for a sense of community. God designed us for it. And yet we don’t know how to achieve it anymore. So when you volunteer, that connection naturally happens. Because you’re now part of a group of like-minded people who are on mission with you. Even though backgrounds are diverse, you’re put together while working toward a common goal and that creates a true sense of community.

People often ask me, “What do I get out of volunteering?” That’s a fair question, because time today is incredibly scarce and thus valuable. Here’s what’s in it for you.

First, you’ll connect with a group of people who want to make a difference right here where we live. You’ll also get the chance to earn community service hours, should you belong to an organization whose members do those types of projects. You’ll get a free education (we’ll teach you the difference between a handout and a hand up) and, perhaps most important of all, you’ll get that special feeling that only comes from knowing you’re helping others.

If you’re considering volunteering, here’s my advice: Try it, you’ll like it! Because once you experience the joy that comes from being part of a special team of people, you’ll want more. And that erases the emptiness and loneliness. Plus, your heart will be warmed by the glow that only comes from helping those who need a hand up.

So try us out for three or four weeks. I’m totally convinced that by the end of that time you’ll never look at volunteering the same way ever again!