Mel Trotter Ministries, a local nonprofit organization serving the hungry, homeless, and hurting of Greater Grand Rapids, observed Volunteer Appreciation Week with a celebration in which Jill Schaible was honored as its 2015 Volunteer of the Year.
Mel Trotter Ministries receives thousands of volunteers that serve their mission and thrift stores every year. In 2014, MTM hosted 4,345 volunteers who completed 31,450 hours of service. This year, volunteers have already donated 8,490 hours of service.
Every year, during the Volunteer Appreciation Celebration, MTM recognizes a Volunteer of the Year—someone who exemplifies the MTM tagline, "Compassion Demonstrated." Jill first began volunteering at MTM with her husband and a few friends at the Great Thanksgiving Banquet in 2013. "I had thought about being a part of something this big for quite awhile, so it felt amazing to actually do it," she said. Soon after this experience, Jill began volunteering on a weekly basis. She now volunteers three days each week.
"I wanted to see the people I was helping—I wanted to hear their stories," Jill said. "Seeing what people have had to deal with, it makes you realize the resiliency of the human spirit." Jill sees MTM as a place of healing. "It's a place where God can fix you. It's a safe place—there is zero judgment. You will find refuge, and genuine caring." She notes that by actively partnering with other agencies in the city, MTM is intentional about catching those who are falling through the cracks, giving people a real chance at independence. With some great goals in the works, MTM leadership is also striving to connect the mentally ill with caseworkers and provide housing and support for homeless teens. Jill believes that with God's leading, many people's lives are being changed through the efforts of this ministry. "Anyone would feel privileged to be a part of what's happening here."
Jill has published a book, "The Prized Possession: Finding Hope, Worth, and Purpose in a Wounded World." In an excerpt from it, she writes: "When we put others' needs above our own, even when we ourselves may be hurting, the supernatural power of God is able to work in us and change us." In terms of contributing to your community, Jill offered this advice: "Step out of your comfort zone. There is so much value to helping people who can't help you back. Serving as a volunteer has blessed my life in so many positive ways, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be here at Mel Trotter."
Click here for more information about Mel Trotter Ministries.