Volunteer Appreciation Night

12745874_10153926010029500_7069736040495034580_nIf Access Church is a body with arms outstretched toward those disconnected from God, the volunteers are the heart that keeps the body moving. Every week individuals with jobs and families show up to serve and love without expecting anything in return. There are several obvious benefits to serving; Friendships are born and nurtured, there is an opportunity to see growth in others, and it feels great to be part of something bigger than oneself. But often volunteering requires real sacrifice. The leaders of Access decided to spend an evening recognizing these sacrifices and thanking the volunteers for giving their time and hearts to the people who attend Access. This was the impetus for the first-ever Volunteer Appreciation Event on February 20, 2016.

10400662_10153926009809500_2925561035758085985_nThe event was held at the Jacksonville Craig Airport inside a hanger decked out for fun and relaxation. Krystal Martz was the point person organizing the night. With a background in non-profits and event planning, Krystal helped design a night to honor volunteers with a lovely dinner, band, photographer, and program. “We wanted to create a night where volunteers could just show up, without bringing anything, and enjoy themselves,” she said.

Guests arrived at 6:30 p.m. and received “boarding passes,” which contained handwritten thank you notes from the staff member each volunteer serves under. Rich Barrett made welcoming remarks, and then dinner was served!  After dinner, Rich shared his gratitude for the time and love each volunteer pours into the lives of Access attenders. A favorite moment of the evening was watching a video, created by seniors in high school, sharing  how previous small-group leaders had impacted their lives. 12742562_10153926012764500_7345977520878661482_nThe group was entertained by a live band, and a few individuals took advantage of the treat by dancing. A photographer was on hand to take photos in front of a stunning airplane.

There were approximately 100 volunteers in attendance. Two of those volunteers were Alan and Pam Fraser. They currently serve with UpStreet small groups and production. “It’s an honor to be part of a church that thinks enough of their volunteers to treat them to a night like this,” Alan said. “It’s so consistent with the way Access does everything. They always go above and beyond.”

motorcycleRich and Stephanie Barrett know that Access is filled with wonderful servant-hearted individuals. This event was a great opportunity for them to personally thank each volunteer for the time, energy, and love that is poured into each moment at Access Church. Perhaps it didn’t hurt that the couple was able to kick the night off on a motorcycle ride around the hanger with “Danger Zone” playing in the background.

“We’ve heard great reviews from the night,” Krystal said. “This will be the first of many volunteer appreciation events at Access.”