A Spring Awakening!
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” Isaiah 35:1
Spring has sprung and there are blooms and blossoms, new hope in a COVID-free time, and joy in the gift of life, especially new life. In this newsletter, you will find information on our most important needs, and a reflection by one of our wonderful volunteers, Sarah A. She shares with us her thoughts, insights, and the hope that we at MaRiH seek to spread. I hope this speaks to your heart and calls you to find out more about volunteering. Thanks to Hayden and the youth group at Christ the King parish in Alexandria for their hard day’s work (photo below). Volunteers, serving in love, make all service possible.
A Volunteer Testimony
When I was asked to reflect about my time volunteering at MaRiH and the services we provide to women, the first word that came to mind was GRACE. The reasons I feel that grace portrays the mission and actions of the MaRiH Center are, that grace:
- Is a freely given gift from God.
- Brings new life out of difficult decisions, places, and human brokenness.
- Is nothing we deserve but instead is given regardless of our circumstances or past choices.
- Can be received at any time, and in any place and it never expires.
- Does not discriminate and is offered to everyone regardless of race, age, or mental and physical abilities.
I have seen GRACE in action at MaRiH through a kind word, a gesture, a smile, or an action that goes above and beyond what is required. I have used the letters of the word GRACE to further expand on my experiences volunteering at MaRiH.
Growth. The Center has grown over the last two years in terms of activities, outreach and volunteers. I have seen older volunteers leave after years of service, which is sad. But I have been energized to experience the recent surge of new volunteers inject enthusiasm and new ideas. For existing volunteers, I have seen growth in terms of roles we assume as we become more experienced and find areas of need that intersect with our unique talents, skills and gifts. For some of us this could include administrative and paperwork, filling clothing requests, answering phones, and addressing urgent needs of a pregnant woman. Or assisting mothers to obtain coordinated services and resources in their community. The joy of interacting with the families when they come to the center is pure joy and there is much grace involved. The groups who support us, as well as the families we serve, has grown, both in diversity and number. We are seeing a greater number of non-English speaking families requiring a greater reliance on volunteers with Spanish-English translation skills.
Reflection and Prayer. Each Saturday as I leave MaRiH I often find myself reflecting on my day, the lessons I learned from the other volunteers and women that come through our doors. We as volunteers pray for insight on what to say, what course of action to suggest, or just for the skill to listen and support the women and families. We pray for the special needs and situations that our mothers and families face. This is vital, as sometimes the issues or needs they face can seem insurmountable. This leads to reflection and impacts how we face the same task in the future. It also is grace to be able to pray for these circumstances during our prayer time.
Action. MaRiH is a chance to put into action my beliefs that human life is precious and needs to be protected and cherished. We are key in the pro-life movement’s attempt to counteract the myth that pro-life advocates only care about the baby. Instead, we provide for expectant mothers across multiple areas including financial, emotional, and practical. And we do not just provide for the women, but for all members of the family. Hence, we not only protect new life but nurture life in all stages and times. The actions our volunteers take to accomplish this is amazing. They are the first to offer to drive women to appointments, drop off items at home if they cannot come into the center, and use their personal time to research ways to provide resources and services.
Creative. Creativity in meeting the needs of our women is a key characteristic of MaRiH. We seek to be flexible, to adapt, and to make the greatest impact with limited resources. This could mean directing clients to the most convenient, available and best resources for their specific needs. During the pandemic we kept the doors open, serving our mothers by modifying our practice and keeping all safe. As a volunteer, dragging items up and down the stairs was not easy, but worth it to provide much needed supplies (diapers especially!) to our families who were unable to obtain these in other ways.
Empathy. We seek to show compassion and understanding without judgment in our interactions. Recent trainings have focused on how to mentally put ourselves in their shoes, even if we have never walked their path or faced similar situations. How can we seek to support them and assist while acknowledging our limited role? The key being listening. I love the fact that this attitude of love and acceptance makes MaRiH a safe place where we can show the love of God but still stand firm to life beliefs and principles.
My friends will tell you that I rave about MaRiH to anyone and everyone I can. If we had t-shirts and other fan-club paraphernalia, I would be the first one to proudly flash this (which would flabbergast my mother and female relatives). The reason for this exception is my firm belief that MaRiH is a first-class act and an example of God’s GRACE working through human hands to bring a little bit of light to the families and women in Virginia, Maryland and DC, which is so desperately needed during these challenging times. We welcome you with open arms to explore the joy of volunteering with us and making a difference in the lives of so many people. We have been an all-volunteer organization with our doors and hearts open since 1974.
Come join us.
Sarah A., Volunteer