VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

The Czarnecki & Sapp families

Photograph  & Article by Andrea Six

Help can come in unlikely ways. Sometimes a small moment, like helping a child build a s’more, can create a powerful change. Though the lives of Gloria Sapp, Amy Czarnecki and their families, differ drastically from their newfound friends at Union Mission’s Magdalene House, they were able to connect with something as simple as a backyard campfire.

Each month Amy and Gloria, along with their two families of four, volunteer at Magdalene House, Union Mission’s emergency shelter for women with children and spend some time with the families there. Every time they volunteer, they do something different. From game and pizza nights to cookie decorating days with hot cocoa, there’s a lot of fun when these families get together at the Magdalene House.

But the best night of all? That’s s’mores night, hands down.

Just a few months ago, Amy and Gloria’s small group went over to the Magdalene Project after dinner with a fire pit and all of the fixin’s for s’mores in tow.

 

“The kids were outside playing when we got there and we set up the fire pit, Amy explained. “One of the boys we keep in touch with was the first one in line. He was so excited. He had his marshmallow roaster out and he was ready, sitting right next to my husband to make his s’more because he had never done that before.”

Gloria, a teacher and married mother of two, brings a bag of goodies to surprise the kids with—sometimes there’s crowns and cards or bubbles and other fun treats. She’ll pass them out to the kids and they can play while the mothers chat and connect. Those connections can be so strong that, on more than one occasion, the families exchange contact information and stay in touch.

“As mothers and people with family, I feel like it’s really easy to connect with them because they’re mothers with children,” Gloria revealed. “It’s easier for me to relate and talk to them. You hear their struggles and can encourage them.”

Volunteering is very much a family affair. Their children are dedicated volunteers and will ask when they get to go see their friends at Magdalene. The relationships there go beyond a traditional playdate. When Amy’s children noticed that their friends were just sleeping with pillows and blankets, it spurred them to ask what they could do to help.

“It’s easy to sit back and say we should do something, we should act. These social injustices are easy to complain about, but if you get out in your community, you’ll realize there’s so many ways to make a difference, even a small difference, and make a fun night for someone,” said Amy.