The Heart of a Volunteer
Hearing the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, Becci knew she wanted to be like the boy who offered all he had, his five loaves of bread and two fish. It was a simple gift, given with the intention of serving Jesus and others. And that’s what Becci desired to do. She wanted to spend her life offering her gifts to serve Jesus and others.
Her journey took her to Shepherds Ministries, a residential, vocational, and educational organization for adults with intellectual disabilities, where she is the Director of Ministry Partnerships. Married to husband, Tracy, for 26 years, she has two daughters, Alyssa and Cami. She also serves as the Special Events Coordinator for WE Women at Oakwood Church in Hartland, WI.
JBU sat down with Becci, hoping to gain a glimpse into her busy life as a volunteer coordinator. When hearing the excitement in her voice and seeing the genuine bright smile on her face as she shares about her work, none can doubt that she loves Jesus and loves what He has gifted her to do.
JBU: Looking back, in what ways did God prepare you for volunteer work and managing volunteers?
BECCI: I started out as a teacher, but God directed my path in a different way when my husband was asked to come to Milwaukee to start an inner city program for at-risk kids. I began volunteering there, and started a free daycare for homeless kids. It was an eye-opening experience; you would have children one day or for a month, and then they would be gone. I started working with volunteers, and have been ever since. It launched what has become my career as a volunteer management professional.
JBU: How did you first become involved with Shepherds?
BECCI: Two and a half years ago, I was approached by Shepherds. They told me that they had volunteers, but wanted to grow that part of the ministry. I had never worked with adults with intellectual disabilities, although I had been exposed to them. Just like the body of Christ, I wasn’t called there because I knew about intellectual disabilities, but you don’t have to know to fall in love and to serve.
JBU: What is your role there?
BECCI: I coordinate volunteer programs, I am the connector, and I also educate. It has been interesting to see that with a teaching background, I am not a traditional teacher, but I have a different classroom. I also developed a program called the Shepherd’s Friend Program.
JBU: Could you tell us more about the Shepherd’s Friend Program?
BECCI: High school students from around the country come for a week to learn about adults with intellectual disabilities for the purpose of building a friendship with one of our clients. Students learn how to communicate with them, and learn how to minister to someone who has an intellectual disability. We very prayerfully match them up with one of our clients and someone who has volunteered to be a friend. The visiting students are a blessing; our people take on a leadership and teaching role, and the pair form a friendship. Both learn how to be a friend and that they are both alike.
JBU: What about your work makes it so close to your heart?
BECCI: Breaking down barriers and fears of seeing someone who is “different,” or who is “not like you.” Many don’t know what to say, and feel uncomfortable. My goal is that students walk away from that week realizing that when they see somebody on the street who has a disability, they can make eye contact, smile, and go up and talk to them. That is being Jesus. And if we can break down barriers and remove the fear of not knowing, the world is going to be transformed.
I am passionate about it. I love teaching. Recently, I was asked by a woman running a vacation Bible school program to put together resources about people with intellectual disabilities. It was great that children could learn, what does disability mean? How do you make a friendship with someone who has a disability? How do you communicate with somebody who can’t talk? I was able to be a teacher to kids I don’t even know.
I’m working with people who are marginalized, people who need an advocate. I am not an expert on intellectual disabilities. But I know people who are, so I connect and advocate.
JBU: How do your spiritual gifts aid at Shepherds, as well as in your role as a volunteer management professional?
BECCI: One of my spiritual gifts is shepherding. And that is what I do. I shepherd people, helping them find their place. My desire is to help them fall in love with serving, as Jesus calls us all to serve in one capacity or another. And if you asked me my life purpose, it would be to inspire people to serve. And while you don’t have to have faith to do that, my ultimate goal is to serve Jesus by serving others.
JBU: How would you encourage other women who are struggling in knowing how to use their gifts to serve?
BECCI: Remember everyone is different. I am always hesitant to give people a pattern, because God works through people differently. I am unique, you are unique. We have the same God, and He accomplishes His purposes through us, but He does it differently. Each of us is designed for a purpose and on purpose.
- Favorite Scripture verse: Ephesians 2:10
- Favorite Book: Live Like You Mean It by T.J. Addington
- Favorite Hobby: Acting
- One fun thing she likes to do with her husband: Dinner and a movie
To contact Becci: