Friday, November 23, 2012

Volunteer Profile: Christa Riner

You may be familiar with Christa Riner’s smiling face or friendly voice if you have stopped by The Commonplace over the past year and a half. Since May of 2011, Christa has served as Executive Director Keith Adams’ administrative assistant, but that is not the only hat she wears. Helping out at Common Things Thrift Store and answering – or finding the answer to – any question that comes her way are just a few of the reasons Christa is an essential part of Common Heart’s small revolution of kindness.

Christa found Common Heart when the Monroe-based commodities program she previously volunteered for closed. After learning about Common Heart and its mission, she made the decision to continue serving here in Indian Trail. After a few conversations with Keith, the two found that Christa had the very skills Common Heart that had an immediate need looking for, and the rest is history.

After struggling to find work for some time, this opportunity was an answer to prayer. “It gave me a purpose again. I like helping people and working on the administrative side of things,” Christa said. “For me, it is a job,” she continued. “It has been an experience, a journey and a blessing.”

One of the experiences Christa values most is building valuable relationships. She recalls a fellow volunteer opening her eyes to a new perspective in the midst of a particularly difficult situation. “It was one of those moments when something kind of slaps you sideways,” explained Christa. Her new friend and fellow volunteer helped her overcome a tough situation through listening and fellowship.

That’s what it is all about – people helping people, neighbors becoming friends. “When you help others you often find that you are also helping yourself,” Christa said. “Besides, there is nothing better than the feeling you get after you help someone else without expecting anything in return.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Road to Happiness

“We kept hitting roadblocks everywhere, so we brought everything to a stop and took time to pray, fast, and wait,” said Dana Hinson, Common Heart volunteer. This was the path that brought her to our organization. God put the passion for helping others on Dana’s heart several months before meeting Deborah Adams, Common Things Thrift Store shopkeeper, and hearing her story. “A friend and I had decided we wanted to open a thrift store to support a food pantry so we began creating. We got a 40+ page business plan, met with small business officials, and researched potential loan options and 501 contributors—but God had another plan,” Dana explained.

After talking to Deb, Dana knew what she was supposed to do. “God spoke openly to me that this was His plan. I was to serve,” she said.

Dana worked as a real estate broker for four years. “I was successful…and focused,” she said. Her life’s course took a sharp turn in the other direction, however, after several medical issues changed everything. “That forced me to look at where my priorities were and where my heart was. I left my business and came to know God in a personal way, and for that I could not be more grateful,” she said.

Dana has been serving Common Heart for about a year and shares her story of loss, gain and change with every person she comes into contact with. “But I think serving has affected me the most,” Dana said as she reflected on listening to the stories of the people she serves and serves with. “It really puts my situation in perspective! I have learned to let go of stereotypes and love people just as they are.”

“I know that I am blessed by service, not because of it,” she said. “I am so thankful to be a part of Common Heart’s small revolution of kindness.”