It is no small statement that Volunteers are the backbone of FCNI’s success. Unequivocally, we could not do the work we do, impact the lives we impact, without individuals from our community coming alongside us, dedicating their time, energy and resources to helping us in what seems like countless ways. Our volunteers mentor and tutor children and youth; make phone calls and photocopies; serve on vital agency committees; enter data; share ideas; work at tabling events; share information; lend a hand or an ear; provide transportation; wrap gifts; inspire our youth; serve food; hand out flyers; greet guests; hustle around the office; organize the disorganized; work together; set up for events; tear down for events; encourage our staff; play with our kids; support our parents and constantly remind us of why we love working in the human services field. They show up and say, without hesitation, “What can I do? How can I serve? I want to help!” These are powerful words that make all the difference in the lives of the 1500+ children, youth and families we serve every year.
Let me share some data. In 2014, 593 community members volunteered with FCNI, donating a total of 15,750 hours to our mission. These hours can be translated into having over seven additional full-time employees working for us, which is an amazing outcome that contributes very generously to our bottom line—enabling FCNI to serve more individuals impacted by trauma in more significant ways.
To learn what kind of person becomes a volunteer, I sat down with Larry McMillian, an FCNI volunteer who has been serving with us since the beginning of the year. While that doesn’t sound like a long time, what made Larry stand out to me is that he’s dedicated much of his life to volunteering—spending the last fifteen years volunteering in some capacity with different organizations dedicated to supporting those in need. For Larry, like many others dedicated to FCNI, his decision to volunteer was a very personal one brought on by reading a specific passage during his daily bible study. As Larry explained, he was particularly moved when he “came to Matthew 25 where Jesus tells us we are to be concerned about the less fortunate in our society.” From here, Larry involved himself in multiple ministries serving the underprivileged, including working for seven years in an inner city shelter for homeless women and children in his home state of Illinois—a role that was as challenging as it was rewarding. After retiring and moving to the Central Coast, Larry, a very dedicated volunteer, sought out local ways to serve which led him to FCNI. Here, Larry not only lends his experience and insight into helping the agency with its fundraising events, but he is also training to be mentor. It is Larry’s hope to be matched with a young man who he can spend time getting to know as well as be a positive role model.
What drives people like Larry to dedicate valuable hours of their time and energy to people they don’t know dealing with traumatic situations that most people would rather avoid? In Larry’s story, we see how his faith worked to inspire and motivate him, and how it sustains him through the many challenges volunteering can present. From other FCNI volunteers, we’ve heard stories of how their parents demonstrated the value in volunteering, or how a friend or family member’s difficult situation made them want to get involved with an agency working to help people in similar situations. Volunteers have also shared that they volunteer in memory of someone else who was a volunteer or that they do it to be a better example to their own children or grandchildren. At the root of all of these various, important reasons is heart—a heart to give, to share, to want more for someone else. It seems that love inspires the desire and willingness to spread more love. While a simple notion, the power that this wields is mighty, and one that those who FCNI serves count on.
April is National Volunteer Month, and as we honor our volunteers and the love that they devote to our cause, we do so acknowledging that the role they play in the success of FCNI’s children and families is immense. Thank you for sharing your precious resources with us—you inspire us every day to love more!
To learn more about volunteering with FCNI, please visit us at FCNI.org/get-involved or call (805) 781-3535.