Our volunteers are such a blessing
Cup of Cool Water is a volunteer based ministry. I wrote a post a few weeks back about one of our volunteers and how much we appreciate him, but in this post I want to share about the sustaining impact our volunteers have had on the ministry over the years.
From day one…or two, Cup has had the support of dozens of dedicated volunteers. Some of our volunteers have been involved for decades. Volunteers like Roger Bennedict, Avrilia Autrey, Linda Meyer, Rick Peller, Joy Baird and many more. Not only have these volunteers committed to being here week in and week out for so many years in order for us to open the drop-in center offering a ministry of presence, but they also support the ministry with incalculable financial support, in-kind donations and prayer.
Some of these volunteers keep an eye out for items we may need when they come to support a drop-in and bring them in later; such as laundry soap, paper towels, clothing items for the youth, certain food items etc. Others have supported us financially when we were in a tough spot or helped us out with particular items, such as washers, dryers or new couches for the drop-in center.
I have always said that, as a staff member at Cup of Cool Water, I have the blessing of seeing someone’s generosity and I get to see the recipient of the generous gift. Often a youth will come into the drop-in center for a specific need, like a pair of shoes or pants. They are usually very grateful and thank a staff member. At that time, we get to say that someone felt God calling them to bring that item to Cup. In these moments, the donated item becomes more than just a donation, it is a testimony.
When I think about what has kept me going over these years, what almost always comes to mind is being co-laborers in Christ with these volunteers. Occasionally a youth will ask me if I get paid to work at Cup and I have to admit that I do get defensive or sheepish about it, but I can always point to a volunteer in the room and say that Lynn or Renee or Jason are here because they want to serve God and serve them. Those are humbling moments for me, but so important, because it is a reminder that we are all stewards of the resources God has given us.
I remember one day there was a young man standing in the back of the hallway next to the clothing room. He had his eye on some Doc Martins that had just been donated that day and was having a hard time waiting his turn. I remember that I noticed him back there but figured he was waiting to use the bathroom, which is right next to the clothing room. The next thing I knew, one of our female volunteers had come out of the clothing room pretty abruptly, she was visibly frustrated. She told me that that guy had let himself into the clothing room and was going to grab those Doc Martins. This is nothing close to the way we run our clothing room. People wait their turn and each person on the clothing list goes back with a staff member or volunteer, so I was frustrated on multiple levels.
In that moment I was fuming. I walked back there and I immediately got in his face and started yelling at him. I said, “That is completely unacceptable, you do not f-ing treat her like that! You have no idea what she gives up to be here and you treat her like that!?” Needless to say, this wasn’t my best moment. He was apologetic about it all and made it right with the volunteer. As I think back to that encounter, I think I was reacting out of being protective of this volunteer because I know she is only there because she wants to serve and she was so disrespected in that moment.
It has been such a gift to serve alongside the volunteers at Cup of Cool Water. Weekly drop-in volunteers, meal teams, people that drop-off donations on a regular basis and people who partner with us financially all contribute to make Cup what it is. It would not be possible without all that support. I want to say thank you to all of you who have gone above and beyond for the youth experiencing homelessness in Spokane.