From stuffing envelopes to coaching students, this Shepherd volunteer is on a fantastic journey
Bob Hemsley walked through the doors of Shepherd for the first time in 2012. He was there on a mission.
With a smile on his face, Hemsley said to the receptionist: “I just retired a week ago, and my wife told me this morning she didn’t care where I went, but I wasn’t allowed to come home until dinner time. So, I am here to volunteer and help in any way possible!”
It was the beginning of a fantastic 10-year journey.
Hemsley started as a volunteer by stuffing and addressing envelopes. Then Shepherd needed someone to volunteer in the kitchen, and Hemsley prepared and served food for more than three years.
He then became an assistant in the Shepherd Academy, helping first graders learn to love learning.
“When you volunteer where the Lord’s work is happening, it is double satisfaction to your life. You are doing something of value and making a difference,” Hemsley, who lives with his wife, Chris, in Fishers, said. “I never thought I would work in a kitchen, but I enjoyed it so much. Seeing the kids joyful because they received food filled my heart with an indescribable feeling. It was also very satisfying to help the students in the classroom. I knew I was helping them and everyone with something so simple.”
Hemsley, who retired after working in the insurance industry, first heard about Shepherd when Executive Director Jay Height spoke at East 91st Street Christian Church.
Volunteering at Shepherd has made a difference not only for Hemsley but also for his family. Every year, he brings his family, including his five grandchildren, to Shepherd to serve the Thanksgiving Day meal to neighbors.
“Serving with my family on Thanksgiving makes us all so thankful for what we have and helps them see why I love serving here,” he said.
How has volunteering affected Hemsley’s life? “Volunteering changed many of my perspectives because I got to know the families with which Shepherd works,” he said. “I met many Hispanic families and saw how loving, caring, supportive, and hardworking they were. They were such a tight-knit community. I didn’t grow up around a very diverse group of people, so getting to know people different than me helped me learn and grow, too.”
What Hemsley loves most about serving at Shepherd are the friendships he made. “They are lifelong friends I bonded with over helping people,” he said. “I also love the smiles. Every time I came to serve at Shepherd, I had fun and left feeling better than when I arrived.”
So, what would he say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at Shepherd? “Put actions behind your thoughts,” he advised. “Use what God has given you and make a difference today. None of us are promised tomorrow. So, do it now, while you are able and healthy. Before you know it, you’ll be 79 and unable to give as much as you could in your 60s.”
To learn more about volunteering at Shepherd, visit: shepherdcommunity.org