Embracing the Community: Reflections of a Volunteer

by Eunice Juanzo, Vertical Encounter church

Coming to America was the biggest leap of faith for me and my husband. We left our loved ones in the Philippines to start afresh after the tragic loss of our first baby. We thought coming to America will help us heal and move forward. Finding a home away from home was never a challenge, thank God for Vertical Encounter who welcomed and embraced us. With our church’s connection with Love INC Lake Country, we began an incredibly transformative journey of service.

I remember our first day at the Love INC warehouse vividly, a freezing Saturday morning, bundled up in layers of clothes. As someone from a tropical country, serving was a challenge for my body, but it was worth it to be a part of such a meaningful cause. I had the privilege of witnessing the Body of Christ in action, coming together from different churches around Lake County and how they impact the lives of individuals and families in our community.

Join me as I take you on a heartfelt journey, sharing the stories, encounters, and lessons that have shaped my time as a volunteer at Love INC Lake County.

Our Gifts Come to Life When Put Into Action

On Saturdays, a number of volunteers work with multiple teams. Team Vertical Encounter is typically designated to Spanish-speaking families, and each member is assigned a specific task. Salvador is our team leader responsible for managing any issues that arise during operations, including broken furniture, unresponsive contacts, and ensuring everyone’s safety. While the rest of the group is focused on lifting furniture, Alicia and I have taken responsibility for calling and conversing with the family. Our group is made up of individuals of different ages, with children and youth assisting in moving furniture, some leading prayers, while others, including myself, take pictures and selfies.

Volunteering at Love INC is a unique experience where different gifts come to life, just like what is written in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14. Each team member has their own unique skills that contribute to the success of each delivery and donation pick up. We all work towards a common goal – to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Lifting Spirits, One Couch at a Time

As volunteers, we often come across families that have experienced loss and are in the midst of grieving. I recall a grandmother who lived in a duplex with her four young grandchildren after the loss of her daughter. Our eyes were filled with tears and our hearts shattered as we prayed for comfort and peace in their home. Prayer changes the atmosphere.

While furniture like couches, tables, and dressers may be helpful, what they truly need is the love and guidance of Jesus Christ. We serve as a support system for a short while, we’ve become a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear for their struggles and life stories, and a helping hand and feet to meet the needs of their home and family at that moment. In our hearts, we hope and pray that they would plug into a local church and would seek the Lord.

There is joy in serving!

Serving through Love INC is a rewarding experience for me and my husband! We have both witnessed the joy of our generous donors and the delight of the families who received the pieces of furniture.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves and serving others through Love INC is a powerful way to put that into action. The call is loud and clear, as we stay here in Waukegan, we are called to serve in any possible way that we can. These are meaningful experiences that we shall keep in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

If you’re interested in serving on Saturdays (or any other day of the week!), there are many opportunities to get involved at Love INC Lake County. You can make a difference in the community! Join us for our next volunteer orientation to see how you can use your God-given time and talents.