JustServe Invites Disciples of Christ to Serve as He Would
Contributed By Rebecca Bennion, member of JustServe council in North America West Area
- JustServe is an online resource linking volunteers with needs in the community.
- Service opportunities can double as date nights, family home evening, and other activities.
“It is our responsibility to care for people who might not be able to care for themselves.” —Johanna Davis, Murrieta California Stake
As a JustServe specialist in Southern California, I offer some insights about the initiative and its website, JustServe.org.
Like many other organizations where I have introduced JustServe, Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres team was extremely receptive to the prospect of working with JustServe. The Padres organization was about to start a community volunteer team by sending players out into the community to volunteer with local charities. When shown how they could find service projects on the website and encourage the public to support their volunteer team, the Padres easily saw the benefit of being part of JustServe.org.
To this day, I continue to get notifications advising me that volunteers are signing up to serve side by side with Major League Baseball players from the San Diego Padres. Youth are particularly excited to volunteer with Padres players. This is just one example of the impact JustServe is having on individuals and communities.
What is JustServe.org?
JustServe.org is a resource to link community volunteer needs with volunteers, providing opportunities to help those in need and enhance the quality of life in the community. And it’s quickly becoming an invaluable website to help find ways to serve.
A JustServe volunteer told me the following story: “I attended an informal community meeting where a prominent nonprofit leader bemoaned the fact that there were very few nonprofits in the area. He claimed there were less than 10 in the entire city. I opened up JustServe in the app and typed in the zip code in question. Instantly, 55 separate posts showed up within five miles of the city. I raised my hand and showed the speaker the JustServe posts, each from separate and distinct nonprofit agencies. The entire audience became excited and asked that I pass my iPad around to show them how JustServe worked. That day, everyone who attended that meeting, about 50 people, registered on JustServe and were extremely anxious to post additional projects. JustServe.org generated so much excitement.”
Recently Church volunteers staffed a JustServe booth in Long Beach, California, at the League of California Cities Expo. The purpose of the event was for leaders from cities throughout the state to see and learn about resources that could help them to govern and their cities to thrive. Mayors, city managers, and city officials visited the JustServe booth in a constant stream.
While the booth stood out for many reasons, the possibility of communicating with local volunteers instantly resonated with each leader as we demonstrated the JustServe website.
When they discovered they could manage their own projects and update their own page on the JustServe website, they became genuinely engaged. The interactive aspect of JustServe.org was extremely attractive to city leaders.
There are two important aspects to JustServe. First, JustServe, the initiative, is an invitation to serve as the Savior would. Second, serving others, both inside and outside the Church, has always been a vital tenet of our faith.
JustServe.org, the website, is the resource to help us act upon this invitation as our time and circumstances permit.
JustServe volunteers pick up trash in Warner Valley, near St. George, Utah. Photo courtesy of JustServe.
How do we use JustServe?
To fully use the resource, individuals first register at www.JustServe.org, then search by area or interest to find service opportunities around them.
Many community organizations are involved in worthwhile causes, and local JustServe representatives can show them how to take advantage of the website by posting projects—a simple and intuitive process.
Service could be included in some of the things we are already doing. For example, JustServe opportunities can be a date night activity, a way to minister together, a family home evening activity, service projects for youth and single adults, and something of mutual interest to do with our friends and neighbors.
Here is a story from Johanna Davis of the Murrieta California Stake:
“This is the second month I have been able to deliver food [from St. Martha Food Pantry] to seniors that cannot leave their house to get to the food pantry. The recipients are so sweet and appreciative. They love chatting with us, especially my daughter, Camryn. I love that I have so many opportunities to serve through JustServe.org. Not only does serving bless me personally, but it is also a great blessing to be able to teach my children that other people matter. It is our responsibility to care for people who might not be able to care for themselves.”
The JustServe logo is found on the home page and on the downloadable app. Photo courtesy of JustServe.
Screenshot from the “About Us” page on the JustServe.org website.
A graphic from the JustServe.org website. Photo courtesy of JustServe.
Some other personal accounts
Tom Bartholet, a volunteer from the Canoga Park California Stake, writes: “I began serving at the Prince of Peace Community Dinner as a favor to a friend using JustServe.org. After my first experience with the guests, I was hooked by the love and joy that emanated from not just the other servers and staff but each guest (the poor and needy) that received the meal.
“As I continue to serve, I am renewed every week that I am there. I have come to know the guests not as ‘homeless’ but as friends that I look forward to seeing and interacting with. I have a deeper understanding of the humanity of those who may not have much in the way of possessions but are rich in associations and are God’s children walking a bit different path.
“I like the person that I am becoming and have a deeper understanding of giving from the heart. The lines are a bit blurred as to just where the ‘service’ is being rendered.”
Suzanne Hodges, executive director of EQUU8 Therapeutic Riding on service rendered by teen volunteers from the Murrieta California Stake, writes: “EQUU8 (pronounced ‘equate’) provides free certified equine services for children of all ages with disabilities. Most of the children and their families could never afford to participate in equine therapy on their own because they are so burdened financially and physically. We also rely almost exclusively on volunteers to exist.
“For the past few months we have enjoyed happy, cheerful volunteers who have signed up to serve on the JustServe website. Our program has never run so smoothly. We have had multiple volunteers who showed up for our training day and then signed up to volunteer once a week.
“We are grateful to have received the help from JustServe by posting our project on their website.”