The world can be a difficult and scary place. I bet if you’re like me, recently your life has been turned upside down and shaken vigorously. But in the midst of it all, if you look, you will find heroes.
Heroes sacrifice for the good of a friend or even for a stranger. Heroes stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. They overcome limitations and obstacles because of their passion and commitment to help. In both times of crisis and in times of routine, extraordinary people step forward.
At Compassion, we have the joy to know many amazing heroes and we want to celebrate them! Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing stories of heroes who are standing up and sacrificing in this time of crisis.
But today, we want to focus on a very special group.
Some of Compassion’s biggest heroes are our volunteers — and this just so happens to be Volunteer Appreciation Week! These amazing people sacrifice their time and energy to serve children they do not know and will likely never meet. Staffing tables and setting up displays may not be glamorous, but these humble servants are changing lives around the world.
Thousands of individuals donate their time and I wish we could tell you each of these volunteer’s story. However, one woman has especially inspired us.
Meet Carla Maines.
Let me tell you a little about Carla. About 25 years ago, Carla attended a Michael W. Smith concert where she learned about children in poverty who needed support. She began sponsoring twin boys from the Dominican Republic. As a mother of two children herself, Carla was excited to help siblings. Since then she has continued to faithfully sponsor for many years. Then in 2011, even though Carla worked full time, she began volunteering with Compassion, serving at many late-night and weekend events to find new sponsors for children in need.
Carla worked for many years in the senior housing industry. She loved serving the elderly and intended to do it until she retired at 70. However, in the fall of 2016, Carla suffered a fractured pelvis due to osteoporosis. Over the next two and a half years, she underwent five surgeries and was no longer able to work.
“When I was told I would be disabled and I was only 62, I cried to God and said, ‘Lord I was planning on working until I was 70,’” says Carla.
Now, Carla needs a little help to get around. She uses a walker or a cane and is a fall risk.
But Carla has not let that stop her from serving others.
Carla believes God has orchestrated every event and has great purpose for her life.
“I heard him say, ‘No, Carla, here’s the new plan: You can volunteer even more.’”
And that is exactly what she has done. Carla has volunteered more than 100 TIMES with Compassion, despite her disability.
One story that demonstrates Carla’s perseverance occurred at a massive event on the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, called “Together.” On the day of the event, the 1.44-mile speedway track was filled with activity and people.
“The volunteer parking was quite a distance from the speedway where Carla was signed up to help,” says Jason Wilkins, volunteer coordinator. “She must have walked, with her walker, over a mile just to get to our booth, but she never asked for help and she never complained. She just showed up and got right to work.”
Carla is not only a hero to the Compassion family, but to her local community as well.
Because of her experience with physical limitations, Carla has special empathy for the elderly and those who are sick. In her free time, she helps advise and run events at a senior center, volunteers in multiple ways at her church, and spends time visiting people who are in hospitals or rehab.
Not every day is easy, but Carla has made a commitment to be joyful. In fact, every year she selects a word to focus on. This year’s word is joy.
“I used to worry about the future, but now I just try to enjoy each day. Do I always? No, because I’m human,” says Carla. “But every day can be joyful if I focus on God instead of circumstances of this life.”
Thank you to all our volunteer heroes!
You inspire us to look beyond ourselves and toward the needs of others. You are not afraid of your limitations. You put aside your own interests and simply help. You emulate Christ to us.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” — Mark 10:45
For more information on volunteering with Compassion, please email [email protected].