Tennessee is called “The Volunteer State,” a nickname that started during the War of 1812, when thousands of volunteer soldiers from Tennessee played a prominent role, especially at the Battle of New Orleans. This reputation for volunteering was reinforced during the Mexican War when the secretary of state asked for 2,800 Tennessee volunteers and got 30,000 respondents.
Through you, this Illinois transplant gets to see that Tennesseans still very much believe in volunteering today. And I am amazed at all the ways and places within GraceWorks that you volunteer. You volunteer as board members to help guide our ministry. You volunteer in our food pantry to help feed our neighbors. You volunteer in our thrift store to make it inviting for our community and our neighbors, and to help us raise money. You even host special volunteer-run sales like the Spring Bling Jewelry sale coming this April 28 and 29. Okay, that was just a shameless plug, but I couldn’t help myself!
You volunteer to be the face of GraceWorks to our neighbors and community as you greet and counsel those who come in for our services. You volunteer behind the scenes to help us process in-kind donations, or input data, or plan special GraceWorks events. You even bring snacks to feed us!
In a nutshell, there isn’t a part of GraceWorks that you don’t impact. You organize, you process, you strategize, you administer, you manage, you clean, you sort, you tag, you shelve, you count, you package, you decorate, you sell, you plan, you promote, you counsel—you make GraceWorks happen!!!
Last year alone, you gave more than 73,000 volunteer hours at GraceWorks. You volunteer anywhere from one hour a week to multiple eight-hour days a week. Your outstanding commitment to GraceWorks has saved us $1.73 million in staff and administrative costs. Those are dollars we can put toward our neighbor services program to help meet their tangible needs of rent and utility payments as well as other financial help.
This month we join other organizations and acknowledge our volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 23 through April 27. I want to say a BIG THANK to the best volunteers in all of Tennessee! We couldn’t do this important work without you. Thank you for being the heart, soul and hands of our mission to help our neighbors in need!
Valencia A. Breckenridge, CEO