Volunteering with Families Moving Forward

What is your favorite kind of volunteering? Do you like making things? Working with people? Beautifying the outdoors? There are so many options, and here at Mount Calvary, we have abundant gifts, a significant capacity to help others, and an amazing spirit for service. But, like most people, we’re busy, and we like to know that our volunteer time makes a difference.

Making a difference is what Families Moving Forward (FMF) is all about. When we volunteer with FMF, we know that we are actually helping families to regain homes of their own. As Chris Anderson says, “It’s the best program out there for homelessness,” and the mission of the organization is to end homelessness – one family at a time. Isn’t it powerful to think we have the ability to affect this kind of change in the lives of people in our community?

I wanted to learn more about volunteering with FMF, so I spoke with the Dutton family. They have been very involved as a family in helping to volunteer since Families Moving Forward started at Mount Calvary. I had a chance to sit down with Lisa Dutton and three of her charming sons – Drew, Charlie, and Jack – to talk about their experiences volunteering with the program.

I asked the Duttons about FMF and why it fits their mission, as a family. Lisa says that what speaks to her most, is that FMF “doesn’t just put a band-aid on the problem. They give families the tools they need to make real change.”

Charlie, age 17, has spent nights with the families as an overnight host and appreciates the chance to interact with new people. He says that although some people can feel shy at first, it’s never long before everyone begins to interact, and soon, people begin to chat and even sing. He told me about part of FMF training, and how it includes conversational tools that help volunteers ask non-intrusive, open-ended questions to make visiting with newcomers easy.

Pastor Dave talks about the “accompaniment model.” It’s where we work side-by-side with people to share ourselves, and to find out about them and their needs. As he says, “It creates the sense that we’re all the family of God”. Drew Dutton, age 19, told me it’s nice to go into the FMF gatherings with no agenda – just to hang out with everyone, just like one big family. He used a great phrase to describe the scene: “a melting pot of conversation.”

Jack, age 12, loves playing with the children. The games and activities provided for the FMF families are right up his alley. I asked him if many of the children are his age. Not often, but he is happy to help entertain kids of all ages. The Dutton boys remembered an autistic boy, who was staying with his grandmother, and homeless. It really affected them to think that a grandmother, who was doing everything she could for her grandson, could be without a home.

Families Moving Forward offers us a unique glimpse into some of the hardships faced by people in our community. We invite you to be a part of that “melting pot,” this August. If you would like to volunteer, or learn more about FMF, contact Chris Anderson for more information.