The wide-open smiles. The sly grins. From the faces of our preschoolers to our youth, we see the impact committed volunteers have on the students in Huntington Green. Every single touch of another’s hand on their shoulder is an affirmation that they are seen and they matter.
Children and teens crave encouragement and leadership. Despite what they may show on their faces, or with their body language at times, they desire the presence of adults (besides their parents or guardians) who care about them. Without knowing it, volunteers are saying, “You are my priority right now. I’m choosing to be here for you.”
Gwen Howard, a weekly volunteer from First Baptist Huntersville, proclaims the children are her, “shot of joy each week!” Another volunteer talks about the wonderful feeling of seeing “the lightbulbs go off” and the kids’ eyes widen, as well as watching their confidence rise as they get high-fives in tutoring.
Many individuals and organizations choose to get involved first by hosting a back-to-school or toy drive, or collecting candy for our Easter Egg Hunt. Soon, they realize they want to experience the fun face to face part of the action and add being present to their partnership with us. And it isn’t unlikely a handful of people decided they want to serve even further.
That’s how it started with SouthLake Christian Academy. Some 30 students have been volunteering with Caterpillar Ministries for four years in various ways. “We love engaging with the children now and getting to know them on a personal level,” says Amaya Gallivan, a senior at SouthLake, who helped each week this summer at Preschool Camp and sometimes chaperoning a Kids Club field trip.
As the head of the school’s partnership with Caterpillar, Amaya organizes the volunteers — some who help on a regular basis with tutoring or summer camp, and others who sign up to volunteer at events and holiday parties. Students collect donations and also host a Character Luncheon for the children in the spring with the cast members of SouthLake’s annual musical.
“Everyone loves their time with the kids,” explains Amaya. “Those who I have had the blessing of serving and getting to know these past years have taught me so much about loving out loud. They have shaped the way I think about how important engagement in the community around us is in Jesus’ name.”
She adds, “I feel blessed to be a part of such an impactful ministry … that God has made Caterpillar a part of my God story.”
Every age of volunteer (those younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult) is important to us and God’s ministry in Huntington Green. Our youngest kiddos revel in the attention of teenagers, of course, while all the children love the colorful fun festivities thrown by school groups, says Sarah Fortner, executive director at Caterpillar. “Active retirees make adoring ‘grandparently’ reading buddies, and anyone who loves to smile and drive is truly a gift to us in helping to drive our vans after school in the neighborhood to take kids to and from programs.”
Whether you’re 12, 24, 45 or 78-plus, there are many ways to put your faith in action with the children and teens in Huntington Green. Those who serve with consistency help us show the kids that God is good, faithful and can be trusted.
Will you be an affirmation of God’s love in the life of a little Caterpillar? Register here.
We are so very thankful for the loving people He sends our way!