Every few months two small pairs of hands are among those that serve dinner to members of The Well Community. They belong to Kate and Don Thacker’s children, ages 5 and 7. For the past two years, ever since another family invited Kate to join them in volunteering at The Well, the Thacker crew has regularly set aside Thursday evenings to provide a meal for members. Don’s band has played occasionally during the worship time at Thursday Night Life, and the kids have even joined him on stage. “We love it,” Kate says.
In addition to serving at Thursday Night Life, Kate has been in involved in planning Recovery Live, one of The Well Community’s major annual fundraisers, and she led the Host Committee for the event the last two years. And, like the family that introduced her to The Well Community, Kate has sought to share the joy of serving there with others—specifically, the joy of serving as a family. She has encouraged other families in the Oak Cliff area not only to volunteer at The Well, but to bring their children when they do. “I think it’s a great opportunity for kids to give back to their community, to … see everybody in the community as all working together,” she explains. “Everybody I talk to tells me what a rewarding experience it is, not only for them but also for their children.
Numerous other volunteers have seen the blessings and benefits of helping out with their loved ones in tow. They include those who serve with both immediate and extended family, like Carol and Murray Arbuckle, who’ve gotten all four of their children and their grandchildren involved as well. “We feel like we’re teaching them that there are people out there who struggle, but they’re people just like us,” explains Carol. “That’s been a neat gift to our family.”
There are a wealth of ways to experience this gift by getting involved at The Well. Kate points out the many activities led by volunteers, such as classes in art and in life skills, that members look forward to. “There’s lots of ways that The Well Community members want to be involved and there’s lots that anybody can get involved in by just showing up,” she says.
The wide variety of opportunities to serve make The Well Community a place for anyone seeking to make a difference in the lives of those dealing with serious mental illnesses. Volunteers include not only families with children of all ages, but also groups of friends, church groups, groups from local businesses and retirees.
James Barclay knew before he retired after 34 years in the Dallas Police Department that he wanted to volunteer at The Well once he stopped working. He says the time he spends helping with lunches and interacting with members each Tuesday is something he looks forward to every week. Likewise, Serena, who also serves at The Well in her retirement, says she gets “a hundred times the blessings” in return as she seeks to bless members of The Well. “I have an opportunity to be with others, to serve God by serving others,” she says.
Though The Well Community exists to be a place to belong for individuals struggling with life-altering mental illnesses, it’s also become a place where volunteers from all stages of life feel like they fit. Kate sums it up: “Even though I’m not a true Well member, I feel like this is a place that I belong, and it’s a place that my family belongs as part of this community.”
The Well Community could be a place where you belong too! Read more about volunteer opportunities and contact us to learn how you could use your skills and gifts to serve those living with serious mental illnesses.