Dave's Dialogue

We are starting a series called Dave's Dialogue, featuring one of our newest volunteers, Dave Lawrence. Dave has been helping us inventory and organize the child and adult diapers in our Diaper Depot that provides a month's supply of diapers, once a year, to those in need. 

volunteerdave

Why do we volunteer to help others? Is it something we do because it makes us feel good about ourselves? Do we do it because we think it is expected of us? Or, do we do it because we really want to help others?

The dictionary defines volunteering as “to offer (oneself or one's services) for some undertaking or purpose.” Usually this means without receiving anything in return.

As kids we are taught by our parents that we should help others whenever we can. We did this in small ways like helping around the house without being asked, helping our parents carry things (even though they didn’t really need help), picking up our rooms without being asked to, or maybe helping to make cookies to give away to others. 

We saw that these things made others happy, and in return that made us happy.

When we got into school, we were asked who wanted to volunteer to do things like erase the chalk board (shows my age), passing out or collecting papers, helping put away supplies, or other similar tasks. When the teacher asked for volunteers, we wanted to be the first to raise our hand to help out. We got nothing in return for doing these task (save a little time outside clapping the erasers), but it made us feel good to volunteer.

For myself, that commitment to helping others was solidified in the Boy Scouts. Part of our oath was “To help other people at all times,” and our slogan was “Do a good turn daily” (picture a scout helping an elderly lady across the street). One of the requirements to reach each new rank was to do some type of community/service project and to explain its importance. In order to become an Eagle Scout (the highest obtainable rank in Boy Scouts), a scout had to plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project for any religious institution, school, or community. Though I never did make Eagle Scout, I think my time in scouts really taught me the importance of helping others.

After high school, I joined the military and one of the things we were evaluated on during our annual appraisals was what kind of volunteer opportunities we led or participated in. Traveling to other countries both in the military and in my job after the military, I had a chance not only to see others in need of help but was also given the opportunity to participate in activities like working with orphans in Korea and helping clean up after disasters. I also volunteered to help clean up after hurricanes while stationed back in the states.

As I get older and my priorities in life change, I see even more the importance of    volunteering to help others.

There are so many ways we can help others, and each of us have talents/gifts that either came naturally to us or we learned from experiences that can be used to help others.

The most important thing we can give is our time. It doesn’t have to take days or even hours to help someone; volunteering to just spend a little time with someone alone, passing out meals to the homeless, babysitting for a mother in need, or cleaning a supply room can make a huge difference for a person or a group in need.  

Volunteering is something we are taught as young children, something we are given the opportunity to do throughout our lives, and something we can teach to our children to pass on.

Yes, helping others does make me feel good about myself, but what is more important is the feelings of the people I have the opportunity to help. As the bible says in 1 Peter 4:10. Each one of us should use whatever gift(s) he has received to serve others.

Honk, Honk! Driving Revenue

Over the past nine years, car donations have raised $150,000 for Interfaith Ministries of Denton (IFM), Inc. The car donation program, Interfaith Denton Charity Cars (IDCC), drives revenue generation allowing us to financially assist northern Denton County residents during unexpected, emergency situations. 

In 2007, Ron Shelton of Shelton Automotive was buying cars at auction and repairing them for sale. He heard Dale Hansen's ad on the radio about donating cars to raise money for the Dallas Can Academy. Ron figured that car donations can make a substantial amount of money for charity, and thought Denton needed some place local to donate. He talked to John Plato about the idea. 

John Plato, now deceased, was not only interested in cars, but also heavily invested in community service. The car donation idea peaked his interest, which he enthusiastically shared with Carin Horn, who was the Board Chair at IFM and his co-volunteer at Habitat for Humanity.

Carin Horn presented the idea to IFM's Executive Director, Condell Garden, and the Board of Directors, including Treasurer, Mike Carr (also deceased), who started running the feasibility numbers. The real work had begun: research, interviews with other charities accepting car donations, State of Texas training and certification, plus acquiring a used car dealer's license.

Ron Shelton donated an office in his automotive shop for Condell Garden to work and set up IDCC auctions online. For the first three to four years, donated vehicles were transported to Ron's business. He accepted car donations and helped Condell with the required paperwork, including title transfers. Ron actually donated the first three cars IDCC received. Thanks, Ron! 

Many sweat hours were contributed at the front end of what has become a very successful and long-term fundraising program for IFM. Back then, folks volunteered to clean and photograph newly donated vehicles.

You may want to try their tool of choice for detailing the inside of a car: a toothbrush.

Others took fliers to local car repair businesses and car enthusiasts, who in turn, spread the word. Some years have seen more donations than others, and some vehicles make more money than others. Donations definitely increased in the years IDCC could afford ideally located billboard marketing.

In 2012 Pro-Tow Wrecker approached IFM Denton about managing car donations and sales for IDCC via live and online auctions, which was more efficient than existing in-house procedures. The program moved forward, and Condell was able to focus more on other areas of managing a small nonprofit. Check out a training certificate she received in the early days of IDCC below. 

In 2016, we switched to an all-in-one service -- Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) Donation Division. Donors can contact IAA directly at 1-800-269-6814. IAA tows the vehicle to their site at no charge to the donor. 

IAA sells the donated vehicle at auction, gives the donor a sales receipt for tax deduction purposes, and IFM Denton receives most of the proceeds. It's interesting to note that folks can donate more than just old cars. IAA also accepts trucks, boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft and heavy equipment.

Over the years, IDCC has provided funding to support our mission of providing assistance to residents of northern Denton County. 

In 2015, Interfaith Ministries of Denton provided financial assistance to more than 4,000 individuals.

"It's been a good thing," Carin Horn said. "Our goal was to leave a legacy of something that would provide a long-term stream of income for Interfaith Ministries, which we did."

In loving memory of John Plato and Mike Carr.

To Volunteer or Not to Volunteer: That is the Question!

IFM Denton volunteer Cassidy Adams shares her thoughts on why people volunteer. 

IFM Denton volunteer Cassidy Adams shares her thoughts on why people volunteer. 

What makes you special? Maybe you can run fast, complete complex math problems, or beat the final level in the newest video game. Maybe it’s something more internal; you’re smarter, nicer, or tougher than everyone else you know. Regardless of what makes you stand out, every individual is unique in their own way. However, we are all connected by the same innate characteristics and needs that make us human. While some of these needs are universal (hunger, thirst, shelter, etc.), other necessities such as the need to volunteer seem to only affect some of the population. So what is it that causes these inconsistencies?

While there is not a specific gene that causes you to be born ready to give back to your community, research has shown that there are particular traits that can cause an individual to be more likely to become a volunteer. According to a recent study conducted at the University of Michigan, individuals born with the gene that leads to anxiety disorders are actually more likely to perform such pro-social behaviors as volunteering. Those who are capable of curbing their anxiety and developing strong social skills are therefore genetically predisposed to volunteer. 

However, perhaps the biggest indicator of an individual’s likelihood of volunteering is the environment in which they grew up in. Children who are introduced to the benefits of volunteering at a young age are more likely to internalize those behaviors and associate the act with positive emotions. If the child begins to value volunteering, it becomes more likely that they will find time in their adult life to give back as well. Through being exposed as a child, the individual is taught that volunteering is an important activity necessary to live a full life.

So according to science and observation, humans decide to volunteer because of their nature AND because of how their families chose to nurture them.

I can’t tell you for sure which hypothesis is accurate. As a volunteer myself, I cannot point out any one trait that made me want to volunteer at Interfaith Ministries of Denton. However, while my family never really exposed me to these types of activities either, I was raised with the mindset that I am overwhelming lucky to have what I do. I was shielded from the harshness of the real world, but was constantly reminded that most people do not have that luxury.

Instead most have to fight to get everything they need while I was being handed things I wanted.  So when the time came to begin volunteering, I readily stepped forward. To me it is more than an activity necessary for self-fulfillment, it’s practically a requirement. My parents did so much to ensure that I wouldn’t live a hard live, and it is now my responsibility to try to help others do the same. Regardless of our differences that make each of us so special and unique, everyone is deserving of living their best life and I want nothing more than to help them do that.

Interfaith Ministries of Denton is filled with volunteers and employees who each have their own stories and reasons for wanting to help their community. Each individual here is focused on doing everything they can to help the citizens of Denton, Texas become self-sufficient. We’re here and eager to help whenever you need us.  

Feliz Cinco de Mayo & Kiss Me, I'm Irish

Feliz Cinco de Mayo  &  Kiss Me, I'm Irish

Many Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) though they have no Mexican or Irish ancestry and little idea of what or why they are celebrating. In the US we kind of adopt and influence commemorative days that feed off of our collective desire for an all-day, outside party. Parade, yes!  Public celebration, yes! Food and drink, count me in!