Volunteering – her piece in jigsaw puzzle of life

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To continue celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Month, we wanted you to meet Jaime Acker, one of the Coalition’s wonderful volunteers. Read on to see why she has truly endeared herself to our clients and staff.

How did you get involved with the Coalition?
I became involved with the Coalition by having the desire to give of myself and my time to help others, as I’ve learned it is so much better to give than to receive. This desire had been in my heart for quite some time, so I decided to research some ways and places I would be able to be of service. I prayed about this, and was led to the Coalition for the Homeless website. My heart was immediately drawn to this because I know that at any time, any one of us could potentially be homeless for one reason or another. I have come to learn and understand that every single person has a story as to how they got to where they are today.

So, I set up a time to attend the volunteer orientation and was shown how the organization operated and the many ways I might be able to help.

What was you first impression of the Coalition?
My first impression of the Coalition was eye-opening to say the least! As I toured the facility, my heart immediately was captured. I was shocked to find out how many homeless individuals and families there are here in Orlando; but I was as equally impressed with the programs the Coalition offers to aid and assist people to move forward in a successful manner. I then decided that I wanted to be a part of this process.

How often and in what capacity do you volunteer?
I began my work with the Coalition in October of 2013 at the OPS (operations) desk, which includes helping the Resident Assistants with duties and also helping the residents by supplying needs such as personal items, medications, paperwork, etc. In the beginning, I was there twice per week for two hours per day. Now, I am only able to come in once per week, but hope to become more involved very soon.

Why do you continue to support the Coalition?
I continue to support the Coalition because I believe in what it stands for and what it does for people in great need.

What has surprised you the most about working with the Coalition?
What has surprised me the most about working with the Coalition is how fragile life can be for all of us. However, the beauty about life is that God allows the fortunate and unfortunate alike to see a beautiful sunrise or a beautiful sunset. We all have similarities, such as families and friends. We all laugh and cry. And we all have real hurts and real issues.

What is your fondest memory of volunteering at the Coalition?
My fondest memory reoccurs every time I volunteer at the Coalition, seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of those who have just received the news of finally landing that job…or finally getting that new place to move into. I will forever cherish those moments when they finally see that the hope they have had has come to pass.

What do you wish other people knew about the Coalition?
What I wish all people knew about the Coalition is that there are many ways one can help. What one hour per week can do may seem insignificant, but in reality, it helps in more ways than you will ever imagine. You start to see that you become a tiny important piece of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle that needs to exist in our society; and as we all know, even if ONE piece is missing, it cannot be complete. A true understanding of our existence can never be complete by choosing to ignore what is broken, yet exists and needs to be fixed. When it’s fixed, the puzzle is complete.

Tell us about some of the people you have met while volunteering at the Coalition.
Let me begin by telling you about the staff. They are absolutely amazing in as much as they are true individuals filled with love, understanding, compassion, and a real desire to help the needy. I love everybody who works there! Andrea and Shirley, in particular, because I work closest with those two amazing ladies. Not to mention Linda, Melanie, Olivia and many other friendly faces I have the pleasure of seeing. Everybody is hopeful, helpful, friendly, funny…. like a family. I have a deep love for these people.

I can’t forget the residents! I have met some of the nicest people! I am grateful they have allowed me to create a special bond with many of them, and regardless of their adversities and challenges. I just love to see their beautiful bright smiles as we say “hello.” I derive so much pleasure by being there in the company of both the staff and the residents.

How someone would describe you?
I think it always best to ask others to describe us. There you get a true evaluation. However in the spirit of answering such a question, I believe we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. I would like to think I am a perceptive giving soul who understands pain and misfortune to the point that I’m not willing to just look at it but rather do something about it.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I’m in the process of learning how to have and maintain a balanced life. I love my family and friends. I am currently focusing on an acting and modelling career. I spend time developing the spiritual side of my life. I am working on developing my personal relationship with my significant other.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?
What someone might be surprised to know is that my relationship with my Heavenly Father is my primary source of knowledge, right information and wisdom, giving me the strength and desire to give in any area of life that is not only needed, but where so many may look, talk about it, and then just walk away.

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