We asked Shepherd volunteers Ryan Kitchell and his son Sam about what they have experienced and learned while serving neighbors on the near East side.
What volunteer roles do you serve in at Shepherd?
Sam: I serve as chairman of the Shepherd Youth Council, which is a group of students from Shepherd’s neighborhood and the northside of Indy who work together to serve Shepherd kids. The council ran a week of summer camp at Shepherd this past summer, had a Scooby-Doo themed trunk-or-treat van at Halloween, and helped with the annual Shepherd ski trip.
Ryan: As a family, we’ve helped with Shepherd’s Christmas store, food distribution including the Christmas food effort for the past five years, cleaning storage areas, and are currently working to refurbish 50 donated laptops.
How did you get involved with Shepherd as a volunteer?
Ryan: Several years ago, Shepherd’s Shalom team members Adam Perkins, an Indianapolis police officer, and Shane Hardwick, a paramedic, brought us along as they served neighbors. Seeing the need and their incredible work with neighbors was inspiring. This was a ministry we definitely wanted to be part of!
What stands out to you from your experience as volunteers at Shepherd?
Sam: Getting to know the kids at Shepherd summer camp and building relationships with them is a highlight. I’ll never forget Leon and some of the other kids there, their smiles and laughs.
What have you learned while serving as a volunteer at Shepherd?
Sam: Small things go a long way. You don’t need to come up with a huge thing to make an impact. Just being present, listening, engaging, small acts of kindness can have a big impact on someone.
What advice and encouragement can you offer to someone who is considering serving as a volunteer at Shepherd?
Ryan: Go for it. You don’t need to know anyone at Shepherd or have a particular skill. Shepherd will put you to work. You’ll have a great time doing it and can make a big impact in the lives of Shepherd neighbors. The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.