Local volunteers: the heartbeat of dignity

ARM and Hale Community Ministries directors praise volunteer efforts

By Greg Miller

Where the service of Elizabethton and Carter County residents is concerned, non-profit organizations such as Assistance and Resource Ministries, Inc. (ARM) and Hale Community Ministries say volunteers help them do a better job.
   "When non-profit organizations such as ARM use volunteers, it helps to stretch our money as far as possible," commented Carol Williams, director of ARM.
   "In my observations of other ministries in Carter County, and even social service agencies, I've realized that many programs or services could not continue without the faithfulness of volunteers," said Becky Brumitt, Church and Community Ministries Director, Watauga Association of Baptists.
   Williams compares ARM to a church. "A church isn't the building; the church is the people," she remarked. "ARM is the volunteers that give of their time and caring to make the ministry work. Without them, ARM could not survive. It would not be the ministry that it is."
   Volunteers are those who serve clients the most in non-profit organizations. How volunteers treat clients is crucial to the service such organizations provide, and treating others with respect and a sense of dignity is the most important priority.
   "Volunteers are the people the clients come in contact with most of the time. How volunteers treat and react to their (client) needs makes the client receiving the help have a pleasant experience. It is even more important that we treat everyone with respect and dignity because we are a Christian outreach ministry. We are trying to do the Lord's work through our agency," Williams said.
   "Volunteers for ARM have a real compassion for people who are in need. By being faithful volunteers, they are constantly meeting those needs."
   Hale Community Ministries, a ministry of Watauga Association of Baptists, currently has 50 to 75 volunteers each week at its Carter County and Johnson County locations, Brumitt said. More volunteers are needed, especially for after-school children's "Big A" clubs. "The more volunteers we have, the greater number of clients we can see; the more we can help in our community," said Brumitt.
   ARM has 12 regular volunteers, but additional volunteers are needed, according to Williams. "We can always use more volunteers on a regular basis or to be used as fill-ins for vacation or illness," she commented. "We need volunteers in the office, pantry room and clothing room."
   Volunteers are able to work flexible hours and can choose an area of need where they feel the assistance they provide is most rewarding to them and the clients they serve.
   Local churches also benefit from the hard work of volunteers. "The church can't run without volunteers," said Rev. Joseph W. Manis, pastor of Hunter and Slagle's United Methodist Churches. "We as Christians are the hands and feet of Christ. If we don't work out of faith, the church doesn't run."
   Rev. Steve Witt, president of the Carter County Ministerial Association and pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, said his church is also dependent on volunteer efforts. "Our church, as I am sure most churches are primarily served by volunteers. I think of how many of our congregation work all day have families to tend to yet still make time to serve their local church," Witt said.
   "Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead and that is the greatest sacrifice of all. As Christians, we are to be imitators of Jesus and live our lives as service for Him. Whether it be working in the nursery, house and grounds, greeting, outreach, teaching, music, or hospitality committee, they all do it out of love for Jesus, the church and their community! I thank the Lord for those He has sent to serve others that those being served may have a taste of the Love of Jesus!"