Olympia Union Gospel Mission reaches out to those in need. That’s the mission of the Mission. But OUGM reaches out with the aid of many helping hands in several directions to share the love of Jesus by meeting basic needs within our community.
Outreach takes willing people, volunteers who understand the needs of those in poverty and meet them with sensitivity and caring. The old saying “What comes around, goes around” is true. As volunteers serve to bless others, the blessing often circles back to bless them. Such was the case for Tonya, a volunteer in the VegOut Program.
Tonya is in the process of working toward completing the Life Transformation Program at OUGM and will graduate next year. In October, she began her volunteer work in the VegOut Program. She takes boxes of donated fruit and vegetables to an apartment complex. As kids return home from school on the bus, they are able to shop free and take a bag of donated produce home. She has enjoyed this opportunity, and loves seeing the children’s happy faces as they pick out the fruit and vegetables they like. Many will take vegetables or fruit they may not prefer because they know their parents will enjoy it.
The excitement, smiles and “Thank yous” from the kids causes Tonya heart soar. Parents express their appreciation for the VegOut Program as well. Tonya says, ”I am so glad to be able to give back, since I appreciate all that has been given to me by OUGM.” Through her volunteer work in VegOut, Tonya also received a special blessing.
Because of her addictions, she lost custody of her children; so her sister became their caregiver. One of the VegOut drop off locations was the very apartment complex where Tonya’s sister lives. As Tonya became involved, she was able to do her VegOut distribution there. So every other week, on her VegOut volunteer day, she came early to spend time visiting her sister and briefly seeing her kids.
Through the VegOut visits, Tonya’s sister and counselors were so impressed and encouraged by the positive changes they saw in her that she was soon able to start having regular visitations with her children. This progressed to gain back custody of her youngest child, and the others able to visit on weekends. The family is in the process of being reconciled and reunited.
Tonya’s daughter also enjoys working with her mom in VegOut. She is big enough to help Tonya pack up the vegetables and fruit, and then set the boxes out at the distribution site. Tonya credits VEG-OUT and the Lord for helping bring her family together again.
Interview by Donna M., Mission Volunteer