“Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” That’s the Waterloo First United Methodist Church (FUMC). If you’ll notice anywhere their name appears, this bold statement proclaiming that all are welcome is rarely far behind. But what does it look like in practice, or more specifically, how does it relate to volunteering?

We’ll start with an open heart – the primary obstacle many of us have to overcome before we take any action at all. But we can’t decide to have an open heart. An open heart is not a decision, but the realization of a personal sense of conviction. When we tell people that over 46,000 northeast Iowans go hungry each year, people don’t decide that that is true – they realize that it is true.

Secondly, an open mind is what takes that conviction and makes it a decision. Your heart might know the cause that it wants to fight for, but more often than not, we convince ourselves that whatever that uncomfortable realization is, it is out of our control or none of our concern. When we see people come in to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank to volunteer or to simply take a tour, that is the sign of an open mind. Better yet, when we see a group like Waterloo F.U.M.C. come in to tackle special projects (like repackaging thousands of pounds of crackers so children or seniors can enjoy a snack) that’s the sign of an open mind. An open mind is your ability to take a concept that might seem as trivial as repackaging crackers, and see its impact on the lives of others because you see the bigger picture.

And finally, open doors – the gateway to reoccurring generosity and change. Repetition creates habits. And habits create habitats, or places of healthy growth and change. When you immerse yourself in an environment where you are with people who are making you a better person, your chances of creating an impact, both on yourself and the lives of others, drastically increase.

With over 72 hours in the last year alone, Waterloo F.U.M.C. has been able to use our partnership as a chance to make an impact in local mission work. If your congregation, coworkers, friends or family share these principles of “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.”, please know that you are always welcome here.