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Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

Story and photos by Ann Carter.

Youth 1 is a group you probably don’t hear much about here at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. Typically included in the broader category of Student Ministry, Youth 1 is a group of 6th and 7th graders who spend much of their time on the lower level of the church building forming their faith through studying scripture, building community and exploring their gifts and talents.

Acting out their faith naturally follows learning about their faith. And so they emerge from the basement and into the life of the larger congregation and community looking for ways to put faith into practice.

Walk and Roll with DannyThe most recent faith-into-practice story features Danny Taylor, a member of our church since 1985. Danny lives at the Virginia Home, a residential care facility for adults with disabilities. The only home of its kind in Virginia, it sits on the edge of Maymont Park, about a mile from FBC.

A couple years ago Danny invited Youth 1 to the Virginia Home Walk and Roll 5k. This event means a lot to Danny and the other residents of the Virginia Home. They really wanted to participate in the Monument Avenue 10k. But getting 130 wheelchair-bound folks to the starting line of a race with 40,000 participants has daunting logistics. So six years ago, the Virginia Home started The Walk and Roll 5K, which is a race with cheering crowds, balloons, bands, matching t-shirts, and medals at the finish line. It’s the Monument Avenue 10k without the hassle…and it’s half the distance!

Walk and Roll with DannySuch an event requires many volunteers. So, the Virginia Home looks for loud, loving, energy-filled people who can run or walk their residents around Swan Lake on a beautiful Saturday morning in May. And if Youth 1 is filled with anything, it is loud energy and love!

On May 16, 2015 we joined Danny and his neighbors Bill and Waynetta on their four laps around the lake. They loved it as we took turns pushing their chairs, trotting along-side them, singing songs, dancing, telling stories, stopping for water breaks and to watch geese crossing the road. And when we crossed the finish line, each resident was congratulated by name over the loudspeaker, was awarded a medal, and posed for a photo op. We all felt like rock stars!

Walk and Roll with DannyWhat a privilege to be a part of this special day. Danny, surrounded by members of his church family, got all the love and special attention he could soak up in a day. And Youth 1, surrounded by our Virginia Home neighbors, learned that joy comes not from our abilities, but from being known and loved by those around us.

The time we spend in church is important because we are filled up with love and knowledge and power and spirit. But our faith isn’t truly formed until we use it to touch the world around us.

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Story by Beth Bayless. Photos by Susan Brown.

There is an old saying, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying.”

calloutDouglas Johnson is a woman whose actions and words are in harmony, as she brings hope and joy to those she meets as a volunteer at CrossOver Healthcare Ministries. In October, 2014, CrossOver acknowledged that harmony when they presented Douglas with a Compassionate Care Award. This award recognized her more than ten years of volunteer service to people with medical needs.

So who is Douglas Johnson? She is a wife, mother, grandmother, active volunteer, potter, retired nurse practitioner, and a Christian who loves to serve. A native Richmonder, she married her high school friend and sweetheart Carl Johnson shortly after graduating from MCV/VCU School of Nursing. She took a break from nursing after the birth of her children but returned to her profession when they reached school age. Later, Douglas went back to school to become a nurse practitioner in the area of cardiology.
Crossover honors Douglas JohnsonWhen her son became ill, she retired from nursing to help his family. After his death, Douglas felt at loose ends and that was when she embarked on the path that led to her interests today. Learning to create pottery was one way she dealt with grief. Seeing clay become items of usefulness and beauty reminded her of the lines of the hymn:

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Douglas discovered another outlet when she was invited to join a Saturday mission trip to CrossOver Healthcare Ministries. CrossOver, which provides free health care to nearly 7000 patients every year, needed help to clear a backlog of patients who were entering their system. Douglas found her niche. For over ten years she has gone to CrossOver once a week to provide office nurse services to clients. She interviews patients, prepares them to see the physician, and if needed, provides education about their disease and its treatment.

Crossover honors Douglas JohnsonThis year Douglas’s interests in CrossOver and pottery merged as she donated the proceeds from the sale of some of her pottery to CrossOver.
As Douglas reminisced about her time at CrossOver, a smile crossed her face and she noted, “About two years ago, I realized why I do this. I am helping bring the *Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia.”

Watch video of Douglas serving at CrossOver.
Get more information about CrossOver.
*Read more KOH2RVA stories.


Beth BaylessBeth Bayless, a native of North Carolina, came to Richmond in 1984 after stops in Ohio and Georgia. A registered dietitian for almost 50 years, she received her BS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her MS from Emory University. Beth sings in the Church Choir and JoySingers, and is a member of the Builder’s Class. Now retired, Beth enjoys taking Osher Lifelong Learning classes at the University of Richmond, going to ACAC (an exercise center) and chasing the goal of finishing a family history.

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By Jane Powell. Photographs by Paul Bickford.

Al Astle

“Please use me.” These are the words of Al Astle, an active and vital member of Richmond’s First Baptist Church who celebrated his 95th birthday on August 30, 2011.

Al is a Sunday morning balcony usher, a volunteer for the Community Missions Shower Ministry, and a volunteer at Henrico Doctors Hospital, Forest Campus. In July, Al achieved 7100 hours of volunteer service in the endoscopy unit, transferring patients and making them comfortable. In 2006, he was the recipient of the hospital’s Humanitarian of the Year award.

Al has a heart for service, and for doing God’s work. Having had a distinguished career as a professional percussionist in symphonies from New York to Oklahoma, he had an equally distinguished managerial career in instrument sales. Al spent ten years driving a YMCA bus after his retirement, transporting children to after-school programs.

Al could relate many stories about the people he has helped over the years, but one story in particular is very close to his heart. It involves a dying woman he knew in only the briefest passing, from the building in which they both lived. Al felt the strong urging of the Holy Spirit to minister to this woman in her hospital room. Her capacity to respond to him was severely diminished, but she let him know that she understood. He recited the Lord’s Prayer and read Isaiah 26:3-4, verses suggested by his minister son. Those comforting words about the constancy of the Lord were among the last she ever heard, as she died only a short time after Al’s visit.

Pastor Emeritus Jim Flamming spoke during the “A Life in Ministry” Wednesday evening session in the church’s Dining Hall July 6. He urged the assembled group of retirees and near-retirees to reorder their lives for the Lord’s service when they have finished their careers. Perhaps he had Al in mind, along with some others among the membership who continue to serve the Lord into their eighties and nineties. Dr. Flamming knows, as does Al, that a post-retirement life of meaningful service can be a great and enriching reward and a wonderful way to draw nearer to the Savior.

Al says: “Take one day at a time, and leave it in the Lord’s hands.” From a man who has lived 95 years, including many years of continuing and faithful service, this is good advice.


Jane Powell has been a member of FBC since 2005 and is a member of Journey Bible study class. She has sung in the church choir and volunteered for community mission work, but her current focus is on lobbying the state and federal legislatures to protect the rights and safety of the severely intellectually disabled of Virginia. She has testified publicly, met with members of state government and the U. S. Department of Justice, and penned several letters published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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