“It’s weird to say volunteer. It doesn’t feel like volunteering. It’s like life to me.”
For the past five years, Neil Welds has been volunteering at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Dorchester. We recently sat down with him to talk about what volunteering brings to his life.
Q: How many days a week would you say you are here volunteering?
NEIL: I’m probably here five days a week
When you say you are here five days a week, how much of the day does that entail?
On average, I would say about 20 hours a week.
What kinds of things do you do during those 20 hours?
I drive, assist with food pantry, pick up food at the food bank. I also assist with corps (church) programs. I lead the worship band and teach Corps Cadets (a leadership development program for adolescents). I lead the Spiritual Development time at Kids FEAST and twice a year I do a week-long Vacation Bible School.
Does that change at Christmas time?
YES! (laughing) At Christmas time, I help with the Red Kettle Campaign. I’m not sure I could count how many hours a week that is.
What motivates you to volunteer?
God really. I really feel like this is what God wants me to do for the rest of my life. If I’m not doing this, I’m dead.
Where do you think you got this drive to volunteer?
My parents. My dad was always helping. Every Sunday, he would pick this family up and bring them to church and then drop them off after. He was dedicated to helping others. He did construction and always believed you should charge people fairly. Often, he would charge people below just to help them out.
What was your own home like?
My family open door policy. There was always someone there. The sign at the gate stated “regardless.”
There was literally a sign?
Yes. At the front gate of our house, there was a sign that said “regardless.” People would come if thy were hungry or needed something, a place o stay.
What what did you see as the fruit of all the goodwill that they extended?
Well, for one it helped me and gave me a foundation to have a good relationship with Christ, but also the lives it touched. So many lives in a positive way—you made people feel good, just a little bit of gratitude. To me, it was all about making people feel good and the same comes back to you
So, National Volunteer Week is coming up and sometimes people think volunteering is a once-a-year thing. What would you say to motivate someone to volunteer on a more regular basis in their community?
Do you have any form of love, an ounce of hope in your life? I believe you can impact somebody else’s life. Just reaching out to say “How are you doing?” Just making a commitment to make somebody else feel good and experience that love. If you can help someone else, it makes you feel good.
Captain Travis Lock, Corps Officer (pastor), at the Kroc Community Center shared what Neil means to the ministry.
“It is incredible. Neil Welds is just crucial to the ministry.” Lock said. “I mean, what does’t he do? He is willing to do for his church and our leadership team. The expression on his face when he’s volunteering is one of great joy. He looks like he is doing what he was born to do.”
Want to volunteer with us? Visit salvationarmyma.org/volunteer for all the details.