The year 2009 was the year I planned to retire from working full time. Harvey had been retired five years, and on my birthday I could receive full social security benefits. Why not retire? As the year began, so began my feelings of loss.
When we lived in California, I worked in the California (now Southwest) Yearly Meeting office for almost 10 years. In 1984 we moved to Newberg (from Greenleaf, Idaho), and I began working in the Northwest Yearly Meeting office. Getting to know and love and work with pastors, missionaries, church secretaries (now “administrative assistants”), board members, and of course the staff were the richest benefits from working in these offices.
Retirement day came in August, and the weeks that followed seemed long and somewhat empty. Then one day late in October, Lecia Retter (former children’s pastor at NFC) called me. She was doing grant writing for Love In the Name of Christ (a.k.a Love INC). She described the ministry of Love INC and said there was a need for receptionists in the clearinghouse, then asked if I would be interested in volunteering one day a week. After talking with Harvey and praying about it, I started volunteering right away, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
In most aspects, it’s much different from my work in the yearly meeting offices—except for loving people. Love INC ministers to many, many needy families and homeless people in Yamhill County. And it takes the involvement of many churches and organizations to accomplish this ministry. The “gap ministry” that Newberg Friends oversees is the wood ministry: gathering wood from many sources, cutting it for firewood, and delivering it to Love INC clients. As the Wednesday receptionist, I greet all who come in, provide vouchers to clients for the various gap ministries, and give away breakfast and lunch kits, personal care kits, food boxes or frozen meals, towels and bedding, knit scarves and gloves, and “recycled” bikes. Many times I simply provide a listening ear and some hugs. The ministry of Love INC is much broader than what happens in the clearinghouse, but this is where God has called me to serve at this time.
It’s a joy serving alongside a group of people who are dedicated to the ministry of Love INC and work diligently to help clients improve their lifestyles. This not only includes the staff in the office, but the board members, people who give of their time to serve as mentors to clients who attend the Relational Ministry classes to learn life skills. During the school year, we have social work students from George Fox who do their internships at the clearinghouse. By the way they show love and compassion when working with the clients, I can see it is more than just a class requirement to them. The director meets with the Newberg Ministerial Association and other organizations to keep them apprised of the work and needs of this ministry; articles are printed in The Newberg Graphic about the needs; and a monthly update is sent by email to supporters and anyone interested in this ministry. And people are faithful to respond.
The rewards come when we see clients who have struggled for so long be able to turn their lives around. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this ministry.