A Lifetime of Caring for Others

You can’t be around Karen without sensing her joy and gratefulness. She has spent her life in service to others; she had a career as a Hospice Nurse, took in foster children, and currently cares for her parents. She’s a cancer survivor, mom to three adult children, grandma to four grandchildren, and has a strong faith in God.

Karen first came to FROM because her family needed help making ends meet. Her husband had retired early and she was on disability. Despite cutting back where they could and canceling all the “extras” like cable TV, they were facing a shortfall each month.

Karen remembers being nervous to ask for help. The first time she went to the Food Pantry she sat and cried. “I felt bad that I was taking from someone else who needed it more,” she recalls. One of the volunteers reassured her. “She told me that ‘everyone needs help sometimes and God brought you here.’ No one made me feel bad,” she remembers.

“They were happy that I came and they all wanted to help. We really wouldn’t have made it without FROM.”

Every time Karen was at FROM, “I felt the love of the Lord so strongly and enjoyed going there. I knew I just had to give back.” She soon signed up for a volunteer orientation and began volunteering as a Receptionist.

Her desire to give back to others extends beyond the walls of FROM. “The gift God gave me was to be a caregiver,” she says. “I will use that talent in whatever way He wants me to and in whatever situation He puts in front of me,” she says. Karen uses her caregiving skills in her volunteer roles as an ordained chaplain with the prison system and the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans (GRHV) and with the “No Member Dies Alone” program where she spends time with Veterans who are entering their final stages of life. She also writes to inmates through a prison ministry and continues to be a caregiver for her aging parents. When asked how often she volunteers, she smiles, “I have one day when I’m at home and not volunteering.”

Karen’s love of volunteering is infectious. She shares,

“Volunteering is rewarding in so many ways. The rewards are priceless when you volunteer. I’m so blessed to be able to give back because of everything God has given me; I just got to keep paying it forward. Every time I volunteer it’s just another blessing.”

Because she remembers what it was like to first ask for help, Karen sometimes uses her experience to help comfort others who come to FROM. She encourages others and says, “Don’t be afraid to come get help. Everyone here will greet you with open arms. Their goal is to help you get what you need. There is nothing to be afraid of; we are all family here.”

When she thinks about FROM and her experience, she says,

“God planted you guys here and He is using you; it’s awesome. You are employees of the Lord.”