Volunteer Newsletter

New Year, New You, Same Fight!
Jan & Feb Volunteer Calendar
By Oliver Graham, L&F Volunteer Coordinator

Dear Friends,

Welcome to 2024! Nothing has changed, and that’s okay.

While 2023, personally and professionally, was not without its challenges and pressures, all of them have brought me to a new place; mentally and physically. I am not a diamond, but the pressure is still on, and I’m starting to love every minute of it.

This same old fight will never go away. You can check out for a few years, come back, and the issue of homelessness will still be here; maybe worse. Who knows?

I encourage you to start looking at homelessness as a problem that cannot be fixed and start looking at it as a chronic illness that impacts every community, and reaches people by very few degrees of separation, and will never go away, but we can mitigate the harsh reality of this.

Most of us reading this take some sort of medication daily. Maybe just a multivitamin. I’ve been sick for two weeks, so I have a slew of vitamins on my nightstand. This is proof that I still do what my Mom asks of me. “Please take your vitamins and care for yourself” ~ My Mom.   

Maybe it’s unclear where I’m going with this message,

but I can clear it up for you now: YOU are the medication.

for the chronic illness that is homelessness.

You have to decide how much time you want or feel called to dedicate to what we’re doing here, but what we are asking for is once a month volunteering – just 4 hours a month, with or without a friend (will need volunteer packet on anyone who volunteers).

While we encourage you to spend time with guests when you’re here and not serving dinner or cleaning up, a lot of times, the guests just want to go to bed after dinner, so this might be a good time for studying, learning a new language, cleaning, organizing (and, if you want a special project, just ask!!).

We are looking for the right hearts to help us, and my biggest issue is that I cannot put this in the ear of everyone in Lansing and the surrounding communities. So, please, if you know someone who has expressed interest in volunteering, or someone who has maybe just mentioned to you recently that they’re really bored and need something to do, please share this message with them. Then, if they complain to you that they’re still bored, you can remind them that they never volunteered…and because I know that you enjoy the upper hand in conversation…this is a classic victory for you:-)

To put it more clearly:  

  • College folks, I need you.
  • Empty Nesters, I need you…more than you know.
  • And everyone in between.
  • If you’ve made it a practice to implement good judgment in your life and at all times, I NEED YOU.

If you are ready to volunteer use the calendar link below to sign up:

LINK TO JANUARY/FEBRUARY CALENDAR:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v1R7Fj7d-u705d2iU5jRdOhH2ihKG3OJUahvHAa_zrc/edit?usp=sharing

**DO NOT OPEN ON A PHONE.  IT WILL NOT WORK. USE A COMPUTER. I’VE TRIED FIXING THIS BUT CANNOT**

Please add yourself to the calendar as soon as you can and know that I am working on new training materials, so you will train with another volunteer your first couple of times, and then, if you like, you can be on your own!

Thank you so much for everything you do.  I hope this New Year is filled with blessings, moments and memories that fill your heart with pure JOY!

Sincerely,

Oliver Graham
Volunteer Coordinator
Loaves and Fishes Ministries
(C) (517) 512-4289
(O) (517) 482-2099 ext. 7901
[email protected]
www.loavesandfisheslansing.org

Summer 2023

Dear Volunteers,

I cannot thank you enough for everything you have brought into the shelter. From graciously dedicating your time, to incorporating your hobbies and passions into helping to care for the shelter – when I stop and think of it all, I am blown away! And…on the right day, with volunteer slots filled, and meals and other generous donations being delivered, my heart overflows from all the kindness. I am deeply, deeply grateful to and for ALL of you!

Volunteers Needed: All that being said, our volunteer calendar is looking pretty slim for the next two weeks (assuming folks are vacationing). So, if you can, it would be great to have a few people sign up before the end of this week. And if you’d like to sign up for a day in August, you can just email me, and I will put your name up when the August calendar goes live. My email is [email protected].

Signing Up: If you are pretty savvy with computers and want to check out what days are open on the July Calendar, just do a Control/Click on the following link: Oliver’s Calendar 

Then you can either sign yourself up OR email me at [email protected] OR call me at 517-482-2099 to get yourself on the schedule.  Thank you SO much!!

Summer is in full bloom! Our garden is starting to look like just that – a garden😊! The flowers all around are adding a beautiful delicateness to the building, and fall pumpkins will be sprouting from the earth in no time…thanks to a dutiful gardener who has been donating his time to L&F! So, the next time you are at the shelter, take a minute to walk around and take in the beauty of it all.

Fall Volunteer Events: We are tossing around ideas for Fall volunteer events, and I’d love to hear any ideas you may have.  And if you know anyone who is itching to volunteer — tell them you know where they can be helpful. Then share with them your experience of volunteering at L&F.

Coming Soon: At the end of the month, Apple is coming through with their volunteer initiative, and will be helping us do a deep clean on the shelter. We were going to do a community clean-up, but with it being so hot, keeping it indoors sounded like a smarter plan since we have air conditioning. I never know how hydrated Apple employees are, and it’s best not to take chances.

Many Reasons to Celebrate: It is a happy, healthy shelter house; with updated security, current guests thankfully securing housing, and new guests moving in. So, there are many reasons to celebrate, and many reasons to want to donate your time at Loaves and Fishes Ministries.

Hi! My name is Oliver. I am the Volunteer Coordinator at Loaves and Fishes Ministries in Lansing, MI.

What are you having for dinner?

Fall 2023

What are we having for dinner? A common question. You probably hear it from your children or spouse, frequently.  At Loaves and Fishes, this question is posed to us on a daily basis. Actually, if the house were able to speak, it’s first words would have been “What is for dinner?” It’s a fair question. Our stomachs get curious about our future plans, and the question just seems to pop out!

To the question of “What is for dinner,” I always think of my grandmother jokingly saying, “Your thumbs, if you don’t get out of the kitchen!” A wise five-year old Oliver runs to his grandfather to tell him what happened, and to say, “I’m hungry,” to which the grandfather would reply “Nice to meet you, Hungry. I’m Leroy!.” Nothing is more heartbreaking, as a child, than realizing the adults are working as a team.

Dinner at the shelter takes huge amounts of teamwork; from the volunteers that prepare the food, to the volunteers serving it, dinner is a coordinated attack on hunger, in this shelter, daily. Our sincerest and most heartfelt thank you goes out to all of our dinner preparers. We would lose 50% of our function without you.

We have about three days left with no food coverage at the shelter. On days such as these, we coordinate dinner in-house, and thanks to a couple of our regular dinner preparers, we have people to call if we get in a pinch. If you know of any groups that are looking for a once-a-month dinner project, we would love to get in touch with them. 

As the Volunteer Coordinator for the shelter, I also find myself concerned with who we’re having for dinner, e.g., who will be volunteering to help and to provide daily dinners.

Through the Summer months, it was me. I was the dinner guy. Thankfully, as “Giving Season” moves on, more people are signing up to volunteer, and the guests are seeing fresh faces serving their dinner. A win/win/win. Someone gets to volunteer, guests get to interact with new volunteers, and I can sit at home in the evenings and write lovely, lovely articles for our newsletter. Triple win😊!!!

With it getting colder, and our own desire to hibernate and close off for the season becomes stronger, I ask you—please consider donating your time to this shelter, or any shelter. If you have a heart to see people grow and become stronger and want to be a cheerleader for people who need cheerleaders, please consider donating your time.  

Our guests would love to have YOU over for dinner.

Summer 2023

Dear Volunteers,

I cannot thank you enough for everything you have brought into the shelter. From graciously dedicating your time, to incorporating your hobbies and passions into helping to care for the shelter – when I stop and think of it all, I am blown away! And…on the right day, with volunteer slots filled, and meals and other generous donations being delivered, my heart overflows from all the kindness. I am deeply, deeply grateful to and for ALL of you!

Volunteers Needed: All that being said, our volunteer calendar is looking pretty slim for the next two weeks (assuming folks are vacationing). So, if you can, it would be great to have a few people sign up before the end of this week. And if you’d like to sign up for a day in August, you can just email me, and I will put your name up when the August calendar goes live. My email is [email protected].

Signing Up: If you are pretty savvy with computers and want to check out what days are open on the July Calendar, just do a Control/Click on the following link: Oliver’s Calendar 

Then you can either sign yourself up OR email me at [email protected] OR call me at 517-482-2099 to get yourself on the schedule.  Thank you SO much!!

Summer is in full bloom! Our garden is starting to look like just that – a garden😊! The flowers all around are adding a beautiful delicateness to the building, and fall pumpkins will be sprouting from the earth in no time…thanks to a dutiful gardener who has been donating his time to L&F! So, the next time you are at the shelter, take a minute to walk around and take in the beauty of it all.

Fall Volunteer Events: We are tossing around ideas for Fall volunteer events, and I’d love to hear any ideas you may have.  And if you know anyone who is itching to volunteer — tell them you know where they can be helpful. Then share with them your experience of volunteering at L&F.

Coming Soon: At the end of the month, Apple is coming through with their volunteer initiative, and will be helping us do a deep clean on the shelter. We were going to do a community clean-up, but with it being so hot, keeping it indoors sounded like a smarter plan since we have air conditioning. I never know how hydrated Apple employees are, and it’s best not to take chances.

Many Reasons to Celebrate: It is a happy, healthy shelter house; with updated security, current guests thankfully securing housing, and new guests moving in. So, there are many reasons to celebrate, and many reasons to want to donate your time at Loaves and Fishes Ministries.

Following Mother Teresa’s Example at Loaves and Fishes

By Brent Anderson, L&F Volunteer Coordinator

[email protected]

Fall 2022

“The Greatest disease in the West Today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little LOVE.” ~Mother Teresa

According to Mother Teresa, the Saint from Calcutta, the worst diseases plaguing humankind are isolation, loneliness, and feeling unloved.  Not AIDS…Not Cancer…Not Leprosy… (Probably not Covid-19 either)

During her lifetime, Mother Teresa strove to Love the lowliest, Uplift the downtrodden, and Care for the sickest among us.  Her actions demonstrated a faith and belief that every human is born with inherent Value and deserves to be Loved.  When it comes to Covid-19, Mother Teresa likely would have reminded us that everyone needs to feel Community and Love and Acceptance. This was hard to do during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Even though Stay-at-Home orders and 10-day quarantines are behind us, there’s still an uneasiness when we encounter other humans face-to-face, especially at large events, community gatherings.

 

The lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic go far beyond the individual health effects.  In Lansing, we still have hundreds of brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness, for many reasons, including a lack of affordable housing and too few shelter beds.  As a result of this pandemic, isolation and loneliness are spreading unabated, especially among the most vulnerable members of our city.  In our current political, economic, and social environment, individuals experiencing homelessness don’t stand a chance.  Every shelter in the Greater Lansing area is looking for volunteers and staff to support their missions now that Coronavirus funds are drying up and safety net programs are going away.   Something needs to change.

Let’s refocus and compassionately embrace those individuals too weak to cry out for companionship, conversation, and connection. Mother Teresa’s warning about the dangers of loneliness and our need to support one another are more important today than ever before.  Mother Teresa washed the sores of Lepers and welcomed people with AIDS when they were shunned by the rest of the world.  She identified people and places with the greatest needs and knew those were her people to love, and those were the places her ministry needed to be involved. If she could do all that, we must continue advocating, fighting, and giving a voice to individuals and families experiencing the trauma of homelessness, especially now.

The Loaves and Fishes Ministries’ mission, our inspirations, and the reasons for continuing the advocacy of individuals experiencing homelessness has been overshadowed by Covid-19 procedures and protocols these last few years.  We continue to mitigate the risks, while fully acknowledging continued concerns regarding COVID-19. It is time to bring attention back to our purpose and mission: Loving the Unloved, Caring for the ignored, Nurturing the neediest, and Restoring Hope to those less fortunate.

The need at L&F is greater than ever!  We have lots of work to do!

Come join us in our mutual labor of Love!

 

https://myhero.com/saint-mother-teresa-of-calcutta

Jesus is the Love – to be loved.

Jesus is the Joy – to be shared.

Jesus is the Sacrifice – to be offered.

Jesus is the Peace – to be given.

Jesus is the Bread of Life – to be eaten.

Jesus is the Hungry – to be fed.

Jesus is the Thirsty – to be satiated.

Jesus is the Naked – to be clothed.

Jesus is the Homeless – to be taken in.

Jesus is the Sick – to be healed.

Jesus is the Lonely – to be loved.

Jesus is the Unwanted – to be wanted.

Jesus is the Leper – to wash his wounds.

Jesus is the Beggar – to give him a smile.

Jesus is the Drunkard – to listen to him.

Jesus is the Retarded – to protect him.

Jesus is the Little One – to embrace him.

Jesus is the Blind – to lead him.

Jesus is the Dumb – to speak for him.

Jesus is the Crippled – to walk with him.

Jesus is the Drug addict – to befriend him.

Jesus is the Prostitute – to remove from danger and befriend.

Jesus is the Prisoner – to be visited.

Jesus is the Old – to be served

 

~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta