Reach Out! Using “YOU ARE” to Love Others

Filed under Get Resourced Outreach & Volunteering on Jul 19 12 by

This past Mother’s Day, a group of women in Anderson, South Carolina decided to step out of their comfort zones and use the “You Are” message to encourage women who have lost their children or are at risk of losing them to the Department of Social Services. A few of the event’s organizers share their thoughts on this experience.

nc-eventYOU ARE: Tell us about the event you hosted Mother’s Day weekend?

DONYA: We invited several women through the local organization, House of Israel, to attend a Saturday outdoor lunch. We had a casual [menu of] finger food and salad. We decorated with daisies in Coke bottles and had a craft time where the ladies made a napkin wreath. (It sounds odd, but they were really pretty).

YOU ARE: How many people participated in this event?

TINA: Two sets of people participated: six from our single ladies class at Oakwood (our church) and nine ladies involved with House of Israel.

YOU ARE: What inspired you to do host this event?

MARY BETH: Our Single Ladies group was challenged to think of an outreach opportunity for the spring. I had heard about House of Israel and attended a volunteer meeting that further inspired me to want to be a part of it. Another member of the class mentioned The You Are Project and its mission to reach out to unreached women, so we decided to combine our ideas by using that model with the House of Israel women.

YOU ARE: How did you get others to participate?

DONYA: We shared what we wanted to do and asked if they would be interested in helping. People were very eager to do what they could to help. Since our class is made up of single women and single mothers, it was harder to get many to attend the day of the event, but everything came together smoothly and those that gave were an indispensible part of the event despite not being able to come.

YOU ARE: What was the greatest challenge you had to overcome?

TINA: Fear. Fear of not “clicking” with the other ladies. Fear of things not working out. Fear of people not liking the food.

DONYA: Money. Most of the people in our class, if not all of us, have very limited incomes. We had no idea how we were going to pay for the event until one of our organizers asked her father if his class might like to help out. They jumped at the chance, which was a huge blessing and relief to us.

MARY BETH: Worrying about how the interaction would go with women whose life experiences are very different than mine.

YOU ARE: What surprised you?

TINA: I really enjoyed it.

MARY BETH: Interaction was very natural and easy-going. There weren’t really any horribly awkward or tense moments, besides the initial, “Hey, how are you? What’s your name?” conversations.

DONYA: I was surprised by the number of ladies that came, and I was really surprised that the ladies that came seemed to really enjoy themselves. They jumped right in with our ice breaker game and actively participated in the craft time. They were all smiles the whole time.

YOU ARE: Have you ever done anything like this before, and would you do this again?

TINA: I’ve been involved in outreach before, but I have mostly been involved in child or teen ministries. YES!

DONYA: I have organized events, but never reaching out to people I had never met before. It was a great experience. I would love to do this or something like this again. It is awesome to minister to people that are often overlooked or looked down upon and to see them smile. I loved it.

YOU ARE: What would you do differently?

MARY BETH: Delegate specific responsibilities of the day’s activities to others. Though we had [other women] bring items for the activities, we did not assign them specific responsibilities for that day. In the future, we should make sure our whole class felt ownership [of the event], not just the few of us in charge.

YOU ARE: What were the reactions of the other volunteers after the event?

MARY BETH: We were all encouraged that we could have a small part in showing God’s unconditional love to these women. Many of them have only experienced love from those that want something in return. We wanted to show them that as Christians, we try to display unconditional, selfless love like that of our Savior.

YOU ARE: What was the reaction of the women in attendance?

MARY BETH: Probably the most encouraging thing I heard from one of the House of Israel women was, “It was so nice meeting you all. You guys are so much fun!” I guess I loved the fact that they saw us as normal people that can have fun and enjoy life while we’re serving the Lord. I think sometimes people look at Christians as being boring, weird, and no fun. Overall, they were touched by our desire to encourage them and make them feel loved.

TINA: I think they liked knowing that someone else cared about them and loved them. It’s easy to say, “God loves you”, but much more effective to show that God loves them.

YOU ARE: If you could share one thought with our readers, what would you like them to know?

DONYA: Sometimes it is scary to put yourself out there not knowing how people are going to react to you. We could have had no one show up, or the ladies could have been hesitant to participate; that would have been awkward, but it was a chance we had to take. It turns out we all just really enjoyed getting to know each other, and it was a fun day. I think the Lord really blessed our efforts, and I think He will do that for anyone that is willing to go outside of their comfort zone a little to be a blessing.

MARY BETH: Getting out of your comfort zone to reach women you might initially feel uncomfortable being around is very rewarding. You realize women all have the same battles with wanting to feel loved, valuable, wanted, etc. You don’t have to be scared to reach out to women with other life experiences, but rather be excited about reaching out to women that are thirsty for the “real deal” (Christians that really show Christ by their life). We tend to reach out to mainstream, middle- to upper-class women with our normal church ministries, but there are so many more unreached women in our downtown community.

TINA: Reach out! The effort is worth it.

If you are interested in planning a “You Are” themed event in your community, please contact Catherine at catherine@theyouareproject.com.

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Catherine Smith
Catherine graduated from Western Carolina University with a degree in Education and has experiencing teaching both elementary and high school students. Catherine is passionate about helping women connect with their true purpose and discover their value. As the Community Relations Director, Catherine manages our outreach projects, events, and relationships with other organizations that support women.
  • http://womenslifefellowship.com Deanna Bartlett

    I was so proud of the girls from our class when they did this.
    It’s all about showing the love of Christ to the people in our community. As their teacher, I was excited to see them excited. Love you girls! Each of YOU ARE Precious Daughters of the KING!!!