Meet Awesome Volunteer Blake DeBoer
Meet Blake (pictured on right). Blake is a web developer and part of the Redeemer Downtown congregation. For the past three years, Blake has been faithfully serving with HFNY at the Exodus Transitional Community. The organization provides services that support formerly incarcerated men and women as they seek to obtain jobs and re-enter their communities.
Once a week Blake and other Exodus volunteers meet to have dinner with these men and women before they spend time discussing topics relevant to finding a job. “It's been a completely humbling experience,” says DeBoer.
This Awesome Volunteer gave us a look into his experience serving others and why he does it.
What kinds of challenges are the people you volunteer with facing?
A variety of challenges, but the biggest and most obvious is just finding a job. Most employers are unwilling to hire someone with a criminal record so it requires an immense amount of effort for most of the participants.
What's been rewarding to you about volunteering? What's been challenging?
It's rewarding, and also inspiring, to walk alongside people as they work through their obstacles. At the same time, sometimes it feels like the challenges they are up against are a like a big brick wall and the only thing you can do is to just keep being that advocate in their corner as they work through it.
How have you used the volunteer impact grant from Hope for New York to serve the men and women at Exodus Transitional?
At the end of every 10-week series we have a graduation ceremony. We give each graduate a set of business cards which they always really appreciate. We also host an alumni reunion in the summer, which is a great time to catch up with former participants.
Any favorite memories from volunteering?
For the past few series, we've done what we call an Alumni Networking Night where we invite several past participants to come and share with the current group the challenges they faced and how they dealt with them. That's always a special night. No matter how much sympathy we as mentors might try to give, it is a whole other level of support for the participants when they hear someone say I know exactly what you're going through because I've been there myself.
How do you feel you've grown in your relationship with Christ through volunteering?
In the most obvious sense, I am constantly reminded that my circumstances in life aren't really in my control. In another way though, when you practice giving up time or energy to someone else or something else, it helps remind you that life isn't about you, it's about serving something greater, serving God. And for me, that's something I need a lot of reminding of.
Anything else you want to tell us?
HFNY IS THE BOMB!
We’re grateful for the love Blake!