For Grace Pulis, serving at the Well had always been ordinary. Grace’s father, Joel Pulis, founded the Well Community in 2002, and she was born not long after. Her early memories are filled with Well Community members and with seeing her family interact with people in the Oak Cliff community who were dealing with serious mental illnesses.
Grace clearly recalls her parents driving “daddy’s friends” home, sometimes to a shelter or low-income housing. Occurrences like these were, in her words, “a very, very normal thing.”
These early experiences made her comfortable around people like members of the Well—individuals who are often met with discrimination and fear rather than acceptance and friendship. Looking back, she knows that “getting to see all the life that came out of the Well” shaped her perspective even as a young child.
When she was old enough to be in Saturday Night Life (now Thursday Night Life), the Well Community’s weekly worship service for members, she loved being in a place where it was OK to jump up to sing and to be herself. “I loved talking to people and singing. It became a safe space for me,” she recalls. “It became the normal church service for me.”
Serving at Saturday Night Life was part of her family’s routine when she was a girl, and she anticipated helping to serve dinner to Well members each weekend. It was simply what they did. So, when her father handed off the leadership of the Well in 2012 to start another community organization, Body Oak Cliff, suddenly things didn’t seem normal.
Though she wasn’t involved in the Well for several years, Grace came to realize the great impact that serving at the Well had made on her during her formative years. She was drawn back to the community that has played such a big role in shaping the way she views the world.
During her senior year of high school, Grace created an online fundraiser for the Well as part of her International Baccalaureate program. She also recently volunteered for a week over the summer, which rekindled her excitement and gave her a desire to do more.
Her experiences have also helped to direct her education at University of Texas at Austin, where she’s currently a student. Though she entered college planning to focus on chemistry, she’s now studying communication and leadership with an educational psychology minor with the hope of “doing something like the Well for children.”
Now 19, Grace sees how her experience at the Well Community “has ingrained in me—in every bone in my body—to serve.” It gave her a firsthand understanding of the power of showing people grace and how providing someone with a place where they feel save can change that person’s life. And it taught her that everyone has a story.
She encourages other young people to get involved in serving at the Well. Though she admits that volunteering there might be scary the first time, she knows that the benefits far outweigh any initial discomfort. “It’s so life-giving,” she shares. “You learn so many lessons, and you feel so good afterward.”
Grace emphasizes that members of the Well are real people who have knowledge and experiences to share with others. “I was also receiving. I was also learning,” she says of her time growing up at the Well. And, as she pursues plans to help others just as she saw her family serving members of the Well, it’s clear that she carries what she received with her into the future.
Serving at the Well Community is an excellent opportunity for families and can have a lifelong impact on young people. If you’d like to get involved by serving a meal or helping to lead worship, please contact us! We’d love to find an opportunity for you and your loved ones to volunteer together.