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The Gift of Volunteering

For the last four years, Lee and his children Lucy and Michael have spent either Thanksgiving or Christmas at the Mission volunteering to serve those in need.

“I’m from Maine but moved to Tennessee five and a half years ago to be closer to my children,” said Lee. “I wanted to do something meaningful with my kids over the holidays, and the idea of helping people in need was appealing. I looked online and found Nashville Rescue Mission. I wasn’t that familiar with the Mission but was excited to see it was possible for us to all volunteer together. That first time, I volunteered by myself on Thanksgiving to check things out and that following Christmas I brought Lucy and Michael with me. We’ve been going ever since.”

Since then, Lee, Lucy, and Michael have been back to volunteer on many occasions. “It’s not something we just do over the holidays,” said Lee. “We look for other opportunities to serve throughout the year. I’ve even brought a group of my co-workers to the Mission to volunteer. It’s a great experience.”

Lee was drawn to the Mission because it offered him a place where his kids could serve and see first-hand the people being helped. “We talk a lot about what it means to love our neighbors. Serving at the Mission allows them to put that into practice.”

Despite having done other outreach projects through their church, like picking out Christmas gifts for kids in need, or helping to collect food for a food pantry, Lee says volunteering at the Mission was the first time they were able to volunteer together and actually see the faces of the people they were helping. “I want my children to know how fortunate they are and how blessed we are. I want them to know there are always going to be people in need. And we have a real opportunity to show them love and compassion.”

“At the Mission, you see the love of God in action. It’s more than hearing someone say the words, ‘God Bless You.’ It’s seeing people carrying a homeless person’s tray of food and escorting them to their table. It’s very moving to me.”

Lee’s kids genuinely enjoy volunteering at the Mission. “Although sometimes I have to remind them it’s not a contest to see who can fill someone’s glass the fastest. They can be very competitive with one another. But I never have to twist their arm to go to the Mission, and it’s something we all look forward to doing together.”

It’s been a blessing for Lee to see his kids serve those in need. Whether it was watching his daughter, Lucy crack dozens and dozens of eggs one year, or his son, Michael filling and refilling glasses of tea for two hours straight, he is grateful for the memories they are making. It’s something he will treasure for years to come.

“Volunteering at the Mission is a meaningful experience for my family and me,” shared Lee. “It’s a great way of showing love to people who are hurting and giving back to those in need.”

One thing that stands out for Lee is seeing how the staff and program participants express their appreciation and gratitude towards his children for volunteering at the Mission.

“I have a lot of respect and admiration for the staff at the Mission,” said Lee. “I see them living out their faith every single day. It makes me want to be a part of it—a part of something bigger than myself. I’m grateful I can give something back.”

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