NorthStar volunteer Bartina Houk shares how getting involved in serving others made “big” church much smaller and more personal for her.

 

We have been a part of NorthStar for five years now and feel like this is HOME for us.  When we first came I have to admit it seemed a bit overwhelming.  Here we were starting at a new church knowing nobody and being on the “senior” side of life. How were we ever going to feel comfortable here? We knew we needed to be in a small group to get to know people but I kept feeling the need to reach out and help in some way.

The first opportunity that came along was helping with the MUST Christmas Toy Shop – what fun that was!  I got to be a shopper’s helper and walk with people through the Toy Shop helping them find treasures for their children.  They were so grateful it made me feel like I was really helping someone. From that time I would look at the Community Calendar each month and choose a few things I want to be involved in and sign up for them.

One day I got an email saying they were looking for a few people to clean bathrooms at one of the oldest schools in Cobb County so that NorthStar could refurbish it.  That was a memorable day to say the least.  We also sorted clothes on a weekly basis at a Thrift Shop which doesn’t sound like fun – but it was. One of my favorite ways to help is participating in Deneen’s Coffee Run – we go to the chemo intake center at the hospital and offer to treat patients to a Starbucks.  You can see in their faces that they are dreading sitting there for hours with an IV in their arms and we come along with a sweet treat.  The reaction is amazing – they can’t believe that someone else cares!

My other favorite thing to do involves the Save it Forward program.  You can pick up an envelope with some coupons in and go to the grocery and use the coupons to buy those items and return them to NorthStar.  The next step is every other week a group of us go to the warehouse and we sort all the food that is collected and then bag them up. And the final step in the process is distributing the food to families at the schools. I have a blast walking out with our little red wagon full of groceries to someone’s car knowing that the children in that family will benefit from it. I feel like we are helping the families take one thing off their “worry list.”

How have I been blessed by serving in Community Ministry at NorthStar?  So many ways.  A sense of purpose, making friends with people who are serving as well, and an awareness that we are all a part of a larger community and it is up to us to help each other. God loves us so we can love others.  I remember Mike Linch saying time and time again that if we have a gift, it isn’t for us – it’s to help someone else – that’s where true joy lies. I try to schedule my work schedule around my Community Service projects – it’s that important!