Gandhi once said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. It is through the selfless acts of volunteering and paying it forward that we not only make someone else’s life better, but we also ignite a spark that will inspire others to do the same. Creating that domino effect of giving back unites communities, spreads compassion, and ultimately, makes this world a much better place for generations to come. What a great tradition to start this year! Despite our own life’s troubles, there’s always a reason to give thanks, give back, and give this world a dose of kindness that we so desperately need. We hold that power!
As we progress further into 2017, continue to seek out ways to make life great—for ourselves and others. Research local organizations whose mission speaks to your passions and even allows you to utilize your talents. Cooking, woodworking, healthcare, childcare—you name it, there’s an organization that will put your skills to use for a greater good. For Richmond’s Destiny Empowerment Ministries, it’s all about giving back through the culinary arts. Being blessed with a congregation overflowing with chefs and caterers, the Pastors of Destiny saw fit to make serving at Richmond’s The Doorways, formerly Hospitality House, a core part of their ministry.
The Doorways’ mission is to provide a healing, emotionally supportive environment for those who need to be close to the hospital but not far from the feeling of “home.” According to their website, www.thedoorways.org, the incredible organization serves as Richmond’s premier provider of temporary lodging and non-medical services to patients and their families referred through Richmond-area hospital partners. With the help of local volunteers, whether individually or through ministries like Destiny Empowerment Ministry, The Doorways provides crucial care to their residents and a true home away from home to those who need generosity and compassionate care as they heal.
Upon discovering The Doorways, Pastor Juliette Davis of Destiny Empowerment Ministries knew that her heart for the people and the gifts her congregation is blessed with would make for an excellent volunteer opportunity.
“Due to limited resources, the Doorways doesn’t have a culinary staff to feed the residents, though they have a beautiful and extensive kitchen,” Davis explains. “Destiny has been tremendously blessed with some gifted chefs and caterers who love to use their gift to be a blessing, so we develop a menu and serve the residents a home-cooked meal with a whole lot of love.”
While residents enjoy their meals, which often include delicious brunch, lunch, and dinner items, the Destiny family visits with each resident and engages in rich conversation. They discuss everything from life’s challenges, the battles with chronic illnesses, the weight the illness places on their family and finances, and the loneliness of being away from home for extended periods of time. It’s this personal touch that really makes Destiny a force to be reckoned with; volunteering is about so much more than the gratification we feel after giving back—it’s about the potential to connect on a personal level and truly impact a life.
“We always find common ground with at least one person and always leave with one more reason to be thankful,” says Davis. “We’ve had the privilege of meeting mothers who are awaiting heart surgery for their infants, and siblings who put their lives on hold to ensure a?transplant is a success. So I guess you could say there’s enough ‘soul food’ to go around.”
Launching Destiny Empowerment Ministries in 2015 with her husband, Pastor Freddie Davis, Pastor Juliette Davis constantly reminds her members how important it is to sacrifice your time, talent, and resources on behalf of others. After 25 years of ministerial experience, the Davises sought to provide a hands-on approach to the training, development, and coaching of?believers to bring the Gospel in a practical way to their home, community, and the nations.
The key word here is “community.” So often, churches seek to touch the lives of those who come through their doors, but what about those on the outside? Countless community members need the love and compassion the church offers, but unfortunately, can’t always make it through the doors. That’s where community involvement comes in, and that’s where Destiny Empowerment Ministries excels.
“It’s important for people of faith to give back,” Pastor Juliette stresses. “I have found that an amazing phenomenon occurs when you position yourself to be a blessing. Initially, it seems that the blessing is yours to give—be it food, clothing, or some type of service. When you least expect it, the tables are turned and you begin to realize that you are the one who is getting blessed.”
In addition to serving at The Doorways, Pastors Juliette and Freddie Davis feed the homeless through a ministry they launched over five years ago. “He Cares,” it’s appropriately named, collects clothing, toiletry items, gloves, hats, and coats for distribution at various locations around the city of Richmond. Pastor Juliette also launched Divine Design in late 2016, a monthly program for college students that focuses on helping young women identify and embrace their “divine design.”
“We believe that knowing how God wired you is essential to knowing your purpose, and knowing your purpose is the key to fulfillment in life,” Pastor Juliette explains. “Whether you are 18 or 80, and regardless of your socio-economic background or ethnicity, knowing your purpose is a game changer for everyone.”
For all initiatives, Pastors Juliette and Freddie Davis welcome the assistance of all volunteers who have a heart for the people and seek to be the change they want to see in this world. They’re passionate about equipping and empowering believers to fulfill God’s divine destiny for their lives, and that extends beyond the church doors and spills out into the community.
This year, don’t just focus on ways you can make your life great, but take it a step further and discover ways to impact and improve the lives of others. The world works best when its inhabitants have all hands on deck, committed to remaining compassionate and benevolent. How will you make a mark in your community in 2017?
For those interested in volunteering with Destiny Empowerment Ministries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Destiny Empowerment Ministries holds services on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. at the Hampton Inn in South Richmond, 4300 Commerce Road, and holds their life-changing Transformation Cafe every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Cornerstone Assembly of God, 10551 Chalkley Rd,. N. Chesterfield.