Longtime Columbia Resident Offers a Deeper Insight into Community-Minded Service
One of the beautiful things about the annual ForColumbia day of service is that, while our mission is simply to encourage Christians to live out God’s call on our lives to love and serve our neighbors, something far greater than “just a single day of serving” is occurring. Through that single day of serving, no matter how impressive (or otherwise), both the volunteers and those being served are starting to gain a much wider perspective on what it means to be a part of a community.
Phil Steinhaus, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority, was kind enough to take time to speak with the 2019 ForColumbia Executive Team recently. Having lived in Columbia since the late 1960s, Steinhaus was able to offer a unique perspective as he shared what he sees happening through the multi-year partnership between ForColumbia and CHA.
According to Steinhaus, residents in local public housing benefit not only from the work that is done by volunteers, but from the opportunity to interact with different people from the community: “When they interact with people, like the volunteers from ForColumbia, they get a different sense of the rest of the community and know that they are respected, and that people care about them.”
On the flip side of the coin, Steinhaus believes that there is a great benefit for the ForColumbia volunteers, as well: “Volunteers serving get a new perspective on what public housing is.”
What comes out of that mixture of new perspectives is very often an enhanced desire for deeper connection with others in our community.
As just one example, Alive in Christ Lutheran Church has partnered with ForColumbia for the last five years. As a result of their service at Paquin Tower two years ago, the AIC congregation has developed a deeper, ongoing, year-round relationship with the residents living in this low-income apartment complex downtown, an ongoing connection that would likely not have been made otherwise.
“One of the things I really like about ForColumbia is that it is ‘for Columbia’,” Steinhaus said. He likened ForColumbia’s efforts to the Public Library Book Brigade that he recalls occurring back in 1970. “(Like that community effort), ForColumbia is bringing everyone together for the mutual benefit of everyone. That’s what builds a sense of community here in Columbia, I believe. People come together to make our community better.”
While nearly all of the #ForColumbia2019 planning focuses on a single day of serving – and all the practical details that go along with that – event planners are beginning to see deeper, more meaningful relationships developing organically out of those annual one-day efforts. Isn’t it like our Creator God to take our meager offering and do far more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)?
If you have yet to sign up for this year’s Day of Service, please consider joining us on April 27, 2019, and let’s see what God might be pleased to do through our combined efforts. (Hint: Make sure to sign up early if you and/or those with whom you plan to serve have specific serving site requests.)