Written by: Terri Seydel
Volunteers don’t often have the privilege of knowing the positive impacts of their work. This is not the case for Bill Kroemer.
Many years ago, Bill and his family started donating to the Nashville Rescue Mission as they felt very blessed in their lives and wanted to give back to their community. This organization provides food, clothing, shelter, and life recovery services. Over time, Bill wanted to do more and began donating his time as a Mission ‘linebacker’.
Volunteers are Essential in Helping Those in Need
Twice a week, Bill directs and assists other volunteers as they arrive to prepare food and serve more than two thousand hot and healthy meals each day.
While these activities may appear to be very routine tasks, they are actually providing life-sustaining meals in a positive atmosphere. Over the 10+ years of his involvement, Bill has had many invaluable opportunities to interact with many of the missions’ clients who are either homeless or residents in the Mission’s Life Recovery program.
“Everyone has a name; everyone has a story.”
Through this experience, Bill has realized that the public often has a general misunderstanding of why people end up homeless or with life recovery needs and that these judgments often impair our desire to interact and help them. He has learned that we can gain much understanding and empathy when we take the time to hear people’s stories. And, through these interactions, we can find many opportunities to help and improve their lives.
From Bill’s perspective, their story isn’t complete yet, but when given some assistance, direction, and hope, these people have a chance at improving their lives. He insists that volunteers are an essential part of that journey.
Reap the rewards of Volunteerism
In a recent chance encounter, Bill recognized one of the Mission’s life recovery clients during a furniture installation at his family’s home. Bill asked how he was doing and what the Mission had meant to him.
“It saved my life.”
As they continued the conversation, Bill learned that this man now has his own place to live, a means to support himself, and is thriving in his community. This interaction was a significant reminder to Bill of how volunteers can make such an important difference in other people’s lives.
Let your Passions Pick your Purpose
I asked Bill what advice he would give people who are considering becoming a volunteer. He replied, “People should let the opportunity pick them.” Bill believes that it’s important to enjoy and be passionate about what you do. Authenticity in your desire to help or improve the lives of others will magnify the benefits in ways we may never fully understand.