Welcome back to the Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of the Week. There are thousands and thousands of volunteers who turn out each weekend and selflessly serve children in churches around the globe. They do not do what they do for recognition or accolades, but at Kidmin1124 we would like to shine a light on some of these volunteers as a way to say “Thank You!” So, each week we recognize one volunteer from the world of kidmin who goes above and beyond in their service to God’s kids. Our hope is that this segment will provide some well deserved recognition to individual volunteers. More importantly though, we have asked these Volunteer Champions to share some of their insights and experiences with us so that we can all learn from their wisdom. This week’s recipients, based on a nomination from Amy Fenton Lee, is (drum roll please):
Here is some background information on Amy:
Amy S. Kirby
2. Where do you live (city, state, country)?
3. What church do you attend and serve at (please feel free to include the web address of your church)?
4. How long have you been involved in children’s ministry?
I began teaching 4 and 5 year olds at SMBC 22 years ago and became involved with our special needs ministry when it formed in 1998.
5. What position(s) do you volunteer at in your children’s ministry?
I am the director of our Hand in Hand (Special Needs) Ministry
6. Tell us about your family (spouse, kids, etc.)
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Craig and have two beautiful elementary age daughters.
We asked Amy to share her thoughts on selected questions. Here is what she had to say:
1. What is the single greatest lesson God has taught you through your volunteering in children’s ministry?
As probably most other volunteers will say, it is the blessing of getting out of yourself and giving to others. Although leading an ever- changing ministry as a lay leader is challenging at times I can’t imagine not serving in this capacity. God is always teaching me to look beyond my own circumstances and to count my blessings. It is easy to see God’s unconditional love through the life of a special needs child and serving these children reminds me that God makes no mistakes; that life is sacred and we are ALL created to worship Him.
2. How did volunteering so much affect your own children and family (good and bad)?
I took over as the leader of Hand in Hand when my oldest daughter was just a few months old. Our ministry has been blessed to grow through the years and the last few years I have needed to devote more and more time to the ministry. My children know that this is a priority for me and like a job, there are certain responsibilities that I have. Through the years, especially when the girls were younger, my husband helped with the girls if I had to at church early or late, getting them to other events, bedtimes, etc. when I had a commitment at church. Without his support, I don’t think I could have assumed a leadership role. My oldest daughter has reached the age where she can help me on Sunday mornings and loves to help with the special needs children at church. I pray that seeing my service and working along side me as the years go, they will both develop a heart for serving others and especially people with special needs.
3. As a volunteer yourself, what advice would you give to a new or young children’s pastor who needs help learning to recruit or retain volunteers?
Most people aren’t just going to ask to serve. People are so busy these days that it takes an area that they feel passionate about to give of their time. Many of our volunteers just needed to meet one of our children, know their parents and their situation or have been touched by a special needs person in their own life at some point along the way. I think if people serve as a volunteer, they want to really feel a part of things and will usually do more if asked.
4. Have you ever struggled in communicating with parents of the children you teach? Do you have a best practice to offer?
Yes, often the dropping off and picking up process is rushed and for our children who are in typical classrooms with a buddy, I may not see the parents at all. Email is fine for factual type information, but overall, a personal phone call seems to be the most effective way to keep families feeling connected. It is time consuming, but I think everyone likes a personal touch every so often, especially for families with special needs children who have so many issues that need to be known by the ministry volunteers and staff.
5. What is the biggest challenge you think kids face today? How can children’s ministry meet that need?
For me, the question is more directed at the parents of special needs children. Parents who have a special needs child are constantly faced with having to go into battle for their children, often at school, with insurance; in medical matters; so church should be a place of respite and peace for them. A chance like the rest of us have to worship God, rejuvenate, serve and fellowship. Many times they can’t do this unless there is someone who is willing to teach and care for their special needs child or young adult. In my opinion, whether you have one or two special needs children in a church or you begin an intentional ministry to reach out to as many as you can in the community, you are serving the entire family, as much as or more than the child. Special Needs ministry can have many different looks, but the purpose should ultimately be the same – love the child, teach him or her about God’s word as you would any other child in the church and provide a safe, loving environment so that the parents and siblings can freely get involved in the life of the church.
6. What do you do personally to achieve balance in your life?
Funny that this question comes up right now. We have more things going on with the ministry right now than ever before and I don’t feel like there is much balance at all! Typically, I balance my time at church to help lead my daughters’ Wednesday night classes (Sometimes serving as a special needs buddy in the classroom) and as a counselor at any extra events I can, so that I get to spend time with them and get to know their friends and see other people that I don’t see when I am working in special needs. I like to do a Bible Study on a different day or night for fellowship and accountability. For almost 10 years I was involved with a great group of ladies with whom I was able to do just that with.
To Children’s Pastors and Others who would like to nominate a volunteer for Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week:
We are looking for additional nominations for future Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of Week recipients. If you have a volunteer, or know of a volunteer, who really goes above and beyond, please e-mail their name, e-mail address and brief explanation of why you are nominating them (a sentence or so) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We need your help to make this series a success.
Prior Recipients of the Award:
Prior recipients of the Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion the Week Award include: