The Angel Tree Distribution Center can be chaotic when the families come to collect their gifts. Michelle Riley, her twin sister, Nicole, and Nicole’s husband had their first volunteer experience with The Salvation Army during this time and loved it. Michelle’s family had blessed by The Salvation Army’s earlier in December when her brother-in-law received help at the Adult Rehabilitation Center. Looking to give back, the three volunteered to help guide the Angel Tree families through the process of receiving their Christmas gifts.
After her first volunteer experience, Michelle wanted to do more and took the opportunity to serve the evening meal at our Red Shield Kitchen. The women and children who came to eat at the kitchen caught Michelle’s attention. Burdened with a love for these families, Michelle’s desire to interact more with the women and children staying in the shelter lead her and her sister to become volunteers at the Women’s and Family Shelter.
We weren’t sure exactly how this volunteer opportunity would turn out since they had not ever had volunteers in this shelter before. Our purpose has been to love on these families and be light and salt. In order to gain trust with these women, we decided to bring arts & crafts to work with the children. Our first volunteer day at the shelter, no women and children came. This could have been a discouragement for us, but instead it allowed us to become familiar with the environment and the staff. Two weeks later, we arrived earlier and decided we would meet the women and children while they ate dinner and then offer to provide arts & crafts for the women and children. Since this time, God has provided several opportunities for Nicole and I to draw, color, make bracelets, play and talk with women and children. Almost every time we have gone someone would ask us, “Why are you all doing this?” We always replied, “Because we love meeting you all and spending time with you.” There is no catch to it. We are there to try and be a blessing, yet we are the ones who end up getting blessed. We are simply trying to be God’s hand extended to sometimes hurting and broken women.
Michelle and Nicole continue to increase their volunteer ministry. At Easter the sisters included their church women’s ministry in creating Easter baskets for the children at the shelter. These two ladies even brought a team from their church and cooked all the residents’ breakfast.
When asked what she would say to others who are considering a volunteer opportunity at The Salvation Army:
Every time I have volunteered with the Salvation Army, God has provided an amazing experience. I can’t begin to tell you how volunteering with this organization has impacted my life. It humbles my heart, opens my eyes to the needs of those around me and fills my heart with overwhelming love and a desire to do more. I would encourage anyone who is considering volunteering to take the first step out on the water and get involved. There is such a fulfillment that comes from serving others.
Thank you Michelle Riley and Nicole Pascher for sharing your servant hearts with Oklahomans who are in need. We are so blessed to have you as a part of The Salvation Army.