Volunteer Spotlight: A Peek behind the Writing with Gretchen
At Rebirth Homes, there are so many ways to help, and each of us has a set of skills and life seasons that open up these important opportunities to follow God’s lead to serve. Usually, these spotlight articles start with an introduction of someone I have interviewed and the work they are doing with Rebirth Homes, but this spotlight is a little different. In this spotlight, I’m going to share a little more about my own journey.
A mutual friend introduced me to Debbie nearly a decade ago when we were launching a nonprofit group focused on how pooling together small savings for micro-loans that could empower women worldwide. At the time, I was just starting out as an assistant professor of English at California Baptist University, and I was praying for opportunities to serve my local community. Our group also wanted to find a way to make a difference locally as well and globally, and that’s where Rebirth Homes entered the picture. At that point, the home itself was still a vision yet to become a reality, and God lit a passion in me for helping women who were survivors of trafficking. I attended trainings, volunteered at events to raise awareness, volunteered as a content writer, and donated to Rebirth Homes. I felt God’s call to help and knew that listening and learning was the next important step.
As the home went from being a dream to a reality, Debbie described the need for mentors, and I felt a tug on my heart to help out. Around the same time, I also trained and served as a sexual assault advocate with the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center for a year. That year was a challenging one for me, but it gave me an opportunity to help women and girls who were experiencing trauma and prepared me to understand trauma and to connect with survivors of trafficking. When the first Rebirth home opened, I spent time each week in the home, drove participants to appointments, offered little lessons in crocheting or writing poetry, and often put together art project opportunities for the participants.
I joke with friends and family that one of my love languages is baked goods because I love to make treats and share them with others, and I was so glad to share this passion with the women of Rebirth Homes. As a mentor, I’d often mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and bake them over at the home to share hot from the oven, melt in your mouth cookies with the ladies. One time when I was in the home in the early morning and I made pancakes and bacon for the participants, and one of the women just got so deeply that what I was saying through baked goods. “This is just what I’ve been needing. It’s mother-love,” she sang out. I wasn’t a mother at the time, but I teared up just a bit, humbled by how God could use something so simple as pancakes to show this woman who had been trafficked starting as a young child that she was loved so deeply. It’s exactly what I’d been trying to say.
In 2019 I got married and moved to San Diego, but Rebirth Homes has stayed near and dear to my heart, and I continued volunteering as a mentor and a content writer for Rebirth. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I continued to volunteer as a mentor through online workshops, and welcomed my daughter in March of 2019. After a challenging pregnancy, I am so thankful for my little miracle baby. Now I balance being a mom, working full time, and serving, and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to continue serving at Rebirth Homes through my writing and work with the newsletter. I love modeling the importance of investing in healing and offering up my talents for the Lord to use in powerful ways for my daughter.