Joy started looking for local mission opportunities where the men and women from her church could serve. Nashville Rescue Mission immediately came to mind. “We spent four hours serving in the kitchen on that first day, followed by four hours working in the warehouse where we put shelves together and organized food,” says Joy.
“The ride home was quiet, as everyone reflected on the day. We were a ‘happy’ exhausted. Exhausted from the work, but even our faces were hurting because we’d smiled so much during the day.”
Volunteering became more than just part of Joy’s ministry. It became personal as she signed her family up to volunteer. “We serve dinner at the Mission on a regular basis, but we especially love volunteering on holidays. Our first Thanksgiving at the Mission changed my life. Watching a mother of five gather around a table with her little ones, pray over their meal and then start cutting up the turkey on her babies’ plates. Someone who appeared to have nothing—but is rich in so many things. It was humbling. I think for the first time, I saw a true picture of Thanksgiving. Now, our families in East Tennessee know not to expect us on Thanksgiving until dinnertime—after we’ve served at the Mission. Then and only then do we hit the road.”
Volunteering has had profound effect on Joy and her family. “As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to meet many people and form many relationships,” says Joy. “Over time, these relationships grow and you learn more and more about each other. The small talk turns into deep meaningful conversations. You celebrate milestones and victories together. You encourage each other. You become friends.”
Over the years, Joy has found more ways to get involved at the Mission than just serving in the kitchen and her heart for giving back has inspired her to include others in her efforts. “I have enjoyed inviting friends, family and coworkers to serve with me. Seeing them experience the same ‘ah ha’ moment I did during my first volunteer experience five years ago is hard to describe,” says Joy. “There is no greater joy than to witness the moment a volunteer falls in love with the mission of Nashville Rescue Mission. It is priceless!”