The smell of fresh green pine in the crisp, chilly air and the rush of holiday holly fills joy and laughter in everyone’s home, heart, and especially here in our close-knit community.
The giving season is a time when we can come together and bring smiles and giggles to others who may need it the most. When we light up someone’s face, especially with a thoughtful gift, experience, or even a simple friendly conversation, our hearts grow bigger and bigger and everything in life feels COMPLETE!
As a child, growing up in a Catholic home, values, morals, beliefs, and respect have always been practiced as much as possible with our family of six! We did not live in a huge home, making personal space an issue and privacy desperately needed! Having respect for others and our family members was always a priority.
Continuing these values is important to me. It starts by building the groundwork for how you want to raise your child(ren) and show up in the community and world. Instilling these values and leading by example is the best thing parents, adults, leaders, and mentors could be doing and taking action to help our community and the people who need a friendly face or just a smile to make their day!
Now, having two boys of my own, it’s important for us as a family to volunteer time during the busiest season of the year and beyond. Mount Clemens has several beautiful, historical churches in need of volunteers, especially during the holidays.
Debra Goff-Liegghio, Stewardship Director for St. Peter’s Church, agrees. “Volunteering from a young age teaches children to respect others' differences,” she says. St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Market Street has over 44 volunteer opportunities just in this church alone, and over 1,000 volunteers to help with the larger community they serve. Debra has been a church employee since 2005 and started as a parishioner and volunteer.
During the holidays, the pain of tough times is more acutely felt, and help is desperately needed. Debra says, “We have an Adopt-a-Family Program, where we typically average 30 families, however, the need was so great last year we adopted 84 families!” This is a wonderful way to involve your children by having them pick out a toy for another child, or getting input from your teen on what another teen might enjoy.
When Debra’s children were young, her family volunteered every year with MCREST (Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team). At the time, her 10-year-old son learned basic cooking skills while making and serving pancakes as a kitchen volunteer. Her daughter looked forward to going back to MCREST each year because it brought her so much happiness.
Scott Joy developed a passion for helping others watching his father, Tim, serve the community. Tim Joy was a retired financial manager, and besides serving as a Board Member of MCREST, he was always involved in giving to underserved people. Today, Scott is following in his father’s footsteps as the Marketing and Communications Manager for MCREST, an organization that has positively impacted 4,500 people in the last decade, a thousand of those being children.
Scott says that MCREST is always looking for families to volunteer, whether it’s helping in the kitchen, organizing a mitten drive for the frigid winter months, or picking out Christmas gifts for the children without a home this year.
The power of volunteerism is evident in our community. MCREST’s website states, “Former MCREST guests, once homeless, are now living in their own homes, working, and leading fulfilling lives. But behind every success story is a caring volunteer—someone just like you.”
To volunteer with MCREST, visit http://www.mcrest.org/volunteer. To participate in the Adopt-A-Family program through St. Peter’s Church, contact Debra at (586) 468-4578.