By Pastor John Leon, Executive Director
Well, dear friend, can you keep a secret? Good. I thought you could because that is why I asked. But, more about that in a moment.
As we know, Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift God has ever given, “the sending of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, when the fullness of time had come, in order to redeem humankind (Gal. 4:4-5).” This means just at the right time, not too early or late, God sent His Son, in human form. And greater yet, we should understand God gave…again.
We, of course, recognize the reason God gives is because of His nature. It is a natural characteristic of His Love, self-less giving. In fact, God can give, even without reciprocation. His love can be rejected, and it will not hinder Him from continuing to love.
So with that, my secret involves a group of people who have also demonstrated a similar level of self-less giving. And the reason it needs to be a secret is they are reticent about letting people know what their “left hand or right hand is doing (Matt. 6:3).” In other words, they prefer NOT to be recognized for their hard work. Consequently, they don’t know I’m writing to you about them, for this very purpose.
They are an extraordinary group of people known as our Albany Helping Hands Board of Directors. I would like to introduce them to you: Jim Sapp, board President, and his wife, Marilee, who serves as board secretary; John Donavan, Vice-president, and has served since the inception; Chris Erickson, Treasurer; Ed Sweet, Jeanine Howell, Randy Glaser, Emerson Smoker, Gloria Bond, Robert Anderson, Mary Lane, as well as Mike and Daphany Davis.
Now, having worked with them for two years, what makes them extraordinary is their constant expression of self-less giving and devotion to the vision of our mission. This board is not symbolic. They are actively engaged in the overall operation. They are responsible to provide oversight for our annual $750,000 budget and property assets. The board also meets regularly twice a month requiring 2-3 hours each time, depending on the business at hand. This doesn’t include countless hours they invest on various sub-committees and assisting with our annual fundraisers in order to meet our budget. And, not only do they invest their time, but personally, I have seen them write checks out to the mission. Some of them even have kept the “lights on” over the years.
As we celebrate this Christmas season of giving, I thought it was important to give recognition to a group of men and women that typically are not given much honor. I hope you can now understand why I wanted to honor them. For you see, there simply would not be a shelter for the desperate and the poor, without them. So, for me, they encapsulate the words of Paul, the apostle… “In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).”
I am proud of this board, because they love the people they serve, selflessly. I love this board, of course, for their love of Jesus and devotion to His work. And, most importantly, I am grateful for, and blessed by this board’s co-labor of love as they assist me and our staff in transforming the impossible, into something wonderful and new—a human soul with identity and purpose for their future!
Thank you for listening, and for your tremendous support this season. Therefore, on behalf of our board, staff, and guests at Albany Helping Hands, may you have a very blessed Christmas and New Year!