Being a good neighbor is…. Encouraging and building others up; Carrying the burdens of the weary; Looking after one another; Recognizing vulnerabilities and stepping in to help; Building long-lasting relationships; Living in community with each other.
This is exactly what NeighborLink does on a daily basis and last week was no exception. During the week of July 20-26, we hosted our fourth annual Be A Good Neighbor Week. Be A Good Neighbor Week was created to build deep, meaningful, and diverse relationships that provide more life-giving benefits than anything else in which we could ever invest our time.
What did Be A Good Neighbor Week look like? It looked like fire hydrants and houses being painted by children; like wheelchair ramps and a complete roof replacement built by thriving communities of friends; and, like yard work and gutter cleaning completed by businesses and organizations from across Northeast Indiana. By the end of Saturday, Be A Good Neighbor Week looked like more than 100 volunteers from across the city of Fort Wayne completing around 50 total projects for their neighbors in need. And that right there is what we mean we we say NeighborLink exists to encourage neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God’s love.
Some of the major projects that volunteers completed last week include a complete roof replacement for our neighbor, Doug. Doug’s roof was in desperate need of repair as it was very old and causing significant water damage on the inside of his house.Volunteers from Faith Baptist Church came out in full force to help Doug for three straight days to get his roof in top-notch shape. Doug’s next door neighbors and family even came out to lend a hand after seeing all the work being done. The excitement on-site was so infectious, his neighbors couldn’t wait to be part of the team that saw the project through to its end.
Fort Wayne’s Youth For Christ City Life ministry showed up to help Paul and his wife, who have lived in their home in Southeast Fort Wayne for over 30 years. Paul has underlying health issues and their home really needed some help. This group of young volunteers value their community and are always seeking ways to be difference-makers to the world around them. They painted the exterior of Paul’s home and stained the deck to keep it protected from the elements and well-maintained. This is what loving your neighbor is all about.
The Carpenter’s Sons volunteer group built two wheelchair ramps during Be A Good Neighbor Week to help some vulnerable neighbors gain better and safer accessibility into and out of their homes and garages.
Several volunteers from various YMCAs across the Fort Wayne area, as well as groups from Three Rivers Wesleyan Church, Ruoff Mortgage, and Northeast Christian Church, took to the streets to help paint fire hydrants and complete yard work projects. Each was a great act of service that has helped beautify our community. To those who came out, your efforts made an incredible impact in the lives of those you served.
Neighboring Productions was also in full swing, capturing the entire week by filming at several project sites each day. They were able to talk to volunteers and neighbors in order to bring each day’s events to viewers online. Make sure to check out each day’s inspiring highlight video by following the links below:
We are so grateful to all of the families, individuals, and staff who came out last week in support of Be A Good Neighbor Week. Please know that everyone involved made a significant choice to use their time, disrupt their schedules, and step outside of their comfort zones to help in ways that may not feel natural. For that, we say Thank You and encourage each of you to build on this experience moving forward. We would love to help you in your volunteer journey. So feel free to reach out to us in any way.
Thank you for your support and heartfelt compassion for our beloved community. Each moment spent and every act of kindness displayed still resonates with long-lasting impact from where we stand today. But let’s not make the good news end right there…. We can choose to love our neighbors today and each new day, because Be A Good Neighbor Week truly never has a beginning or an end.
“The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.”
Vincent van Gogh
Arguably one of the most recognized and posthumously commercialized paintings of all time, Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night transcends art itself. Composed in 1889, Starry Night incorporated elements and techniques that van Gogh struggled with for years. To van Gogh, each color was a concept unto its own. For instance, the color blue represented the vastness of eternity. The color yellow signified divine love. With this in mind, Starry Night takes on a whole new element of meaning. In it, we see a village sprawled across a hill-laden countryside. The primary light illuminating the quaint village below is yellow- the divine love of God penetrating the deep, eternal blues of heaven. By contrast, the church in the middle of town is devoid of light and life. The artistic statement was not accidental.
After intentionally cutting off his own ear during a hallucination, van Gogh admitted himself to an asylum with the hope of a lasting recovery. Shortly after arriving, he somehow found inspiration to finish the work that had confounded him for so long. Starry Night was finished in the early days of his stay. Overjoyed with his success, he took a drastic turn toward recovery. However, it didn’t take long for his demons to return in full force. After wrestling with depression, sporadic hallucinations, and recurring bouts of suicidal thoughts, van Gogh took his own life in July 1890.
The only things I remember learning about Vincent van Gogh in school were his brilliance on the canvas and the grisly story of his intentional self-mutilation. Little was ever said about the rest of his life, including the depressing fact that he only sold one painting in his entire life. Likewise, I never even heard that a few years prior to painting Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh forsook the nobility of his birth after finishing his studies in Bible school. Preeminent in his mind was a desire to serve the poor and needy who dwelt in the shadows. After years of trying to awkwardly fit into the upper-class life inhabited by the London elite, van Gogh decided to follow his heart. In 1879, he departed London and moved to Belgium where he became a full-time missionary.
Upon arriving in Petit-Wasmes, a small coal mining village, van Gogh moved into a spare room at the back of a baker’s house. It was right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of town. However, Van Gogh’s heart was drawn far from the city proper and down the hill where the soot-covered miners worked and lived. After seeing the poverty and squalid working conditions the miners lived and worked in, van Gogh returned to his room each day and spent the rest of the evening tearing his clothing into long, rectangular strips. The next day, he would return to the poverty-stricken area down the hill and bandage the wounds of the injured coal miners.
One night, van Gogh arrived home with nothing more than his pants and shoes on. Every other item of clothing had been donated to the poor or cut into bandages to help the wounded. Seeing him in such a lowly state, van Gogh’s landlords approached him with disappointed concern. “Monsieur Vincent,” they inquired, “why do you deprive yourself of all your clothes like this - you who are descended from such a noble family?”
Van Gogh’s response was simple and to the point: ”I am a friend of the poor like Jesus was.”
For his landlords, it was the last straw. Unable to comprehend why a person of nobility would willingly sacrifice everything he owned for the sake of the poor, they contacted his elder church leaders, begging them to take matters into their own hands and rescue the foreign missionary from his delusions of self-sacrifice.
Van Gogh moved out of the baker’s house and far from the upscale side of town. Instead, he migrated toward the impoverished poor who resided down the hill. A few days later, an explosion rocked the local mine. Van Gogh made straight for the disaster, working tirelessly to rescue the wounded and trapped he had come to befriend. When he noticed how overwhelmed the doctors were, van Gogh took one of the injured under his wing for more than a month. Thanks to van Gogh’s care, the miner recovered. The incident made him something of a beloved celebrity among the poor. Soon after, the locals of Petit-Wasmes began referring to the artist-missionary not as Monsieur van Gogh but as The Good Samaritan.
Around this time, church leaders from abroad showed up to investigate the concerns addressed by his old landlord, the baker. After searching all day for van Gogh, they found him sleeping in a crowded room with the poor and impoverished miners he had come to love and serve. Confused as to why the missionary would stoop to such a low, unseemly level, the elders forcibly removed van Gogh from his ministry at Petit-Wasmes. When he arrived home, van Gogh was fired from the ministry altogether and labeled an embarrassment to the church.
Life would never be the same for Vincent van Gogh. Although he never lost his faith in God or his passion for the lost, the weak, the hungry, or the poor, he lost all faith in the organized structure that the church had become. He found it ironic that the ones whose job it was to reach out to and care for the poor were, in fact, nothing more than modern day Pharisees who would rather pass them by on the other side of the street.
In the waning months of his life, van Gogh would brilliantly capture his frustration in Starry Night. It is no mistake that the central church is lightless and void while the town is illuminated by the one true light from above. To van Gogh, it was the only light that could truly change people, cities, and the world he lived in.
A few weeks before his death, van Gogh’s thoughts returned to Belgium. He had always considered his time among the poor and needy of Petit-Wasmes to be the most meaningful of his life. In his personal apartment at the asylum was a painting studio. As he sat down to paint one morning, images of the miners he had come to love came to mind. Each brushstroke took on a life of its own. With more than 2000 works of art to his name, he had never painted one like this before. By the end of the frenetic session, a painting stood before him that would be easily recognizable to anyone who had heard of the famous Bible story it portrayed.
To van Gogh, it was more than just a Bible story- it was his story. Portrayed in the image was his greatest passion of them all: the wounded, impoverished, and helpless of the earth. To van Gogh, loving them was the greatest art of all. Standing back to observe the finished work, he was reminded of a better time in a better place in a land so far away from the asylum where he lived, painted, and died a few weeks later.
He called it The Good Samaritan.
“I prefer painting people’s eyes to cathedrals.
For there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral,
however solemn and imposing the latter may be -
A human soul, be it that of a poor beggar or of a street walker,
8/13/2020 Update: We are grateful for the candidates who have expressed interest in NeighborLink. We have selected a candidate and look forward to growing with them.
NeighborLink has a vision to see the local Church of Fort Wayne be the hands and feet of Jesus through serving our city’s vulnerable homeowners, who are our neighbors. Thousands of seniors, individuals with disabilities, and people facing life’s unforeseen circumstances are struggling with home maintenance and repairs, and cannot physically or financially perform those tasks. As Project Facilitator, you will be passionate about seeing our mission implemented in the local community, be able to administrate multiple programs at the same time, and have a heart for connecting neighbors. You will be the main point of contact for all neighbors looking for assistance and the volunteers that will help them, as well as the champion of keeping our online project page as up to date as possible. Additionally, this role exists to move volunteers along the journey from being one-time, transactional volunteers to regularly engaged, transformative volunteers through the continued development and implementation of the NL Volunteer Journey.
NeightborLink Executive Director and Director of Operations
Over 70% of the projects that get posted on our website come through our phone.
Take all in-bound requests for assistance via telephone and email, gathering relevant information from neighbors in need, explain how NeighborLink works, and then post needs to website.
Follow-up two weeks after a project has been entered to check on the status. At this time, you will determine whether or not the project is still needed, see if any information has changed, and then update the project accordingly. Doing this ensures volunteers have the latest data possible, and ultimately the homeowner’s needs are met.
Be the first point of contact for anyone seeking to volunteer with NLFW and turn potential volunteers into actual volunteers through project selection, project management, and project support. You will work closely with Jeff Shatto on these tasks.
Process all incoming requests for additional information regarding volunteerism and help volunteers get started with NL.
Support volunteer needs in terms of project selection, answering questions about the volunteering process at NL, gathering tools and materials if needed, and ensure they are equipped to accomplish what they set out to do.
Be able to effectively communicate project details and the NL mission/vision to volunteers to ensure they understand what needs done and how their efforts fit into the bigger picture.
Develop, manage, and lead the process in how the NL team engages with volunteers from the point of contact through the three main levels of the NL Volunteer Journey.
Lead and manage volunteer recruitment efforts within NL to help fill the pipeline of volunteers through the Volunteer Journey.
Full-Time Position (40+ hours week)
Experience: 2-5 years of experience
Education: 2- or 4-year college degree preferred, or relevant work experience
Start date: Early August
You are able to faithfully align with and be able to implement our organization’s mission of Practical Neighbor-to-Neighbor Expressions of God’s Love.
You are self-motivated to stay busy, solve problems, and accomplish your goals in a highly decentralized and independent environment, while also working as a team player toward the big picture.
You have the ability to work each day with most of your hours being completed between the hours of 8am - 6pm in order to reach neighbors and volunteers via telephone. Weekend and night-time flexibility is required as needed based on volunteer demands. However, there is flexibility that comes with the job to ensure a balanced work week.
You have the desire to talk, interact, and build relationships with a large number of people from a diverse range of socioeconomic statuses. You have high levels of interest in relational connections.
You have efficiency working with web-based, form-driven, and word processing applications, and Apple software products. You know when to pick up the phone and make a phone call.
You're Reliable and Flexible
If you say you’re going to do something, you mean it or you work hard to find a solution if you can’t. You will have several different projects relying on your ability to do what you’ve said you will do. You like to take ownership of projects and see them through to completion.
You're Able to Work Independently
NeighborLink is a flat organization and each staff person is responsible for their own specific set of goals. You’ll need to be able to understand the vision, take direction, and then run with it. You’ll also have the flexibility you need to accomplish your job responsibilities as well as fit them into your life’s circumstances.
You're an Implementer
One of the most important skills the successful candidate brings to NL is the ability and desire to get things done. You thrive on knocking things off your checklist and are always looking for ways to fill it back up again.
You're a Connector
The candidate loves to connect people that should meet and know a good partnership opportunity when you see one. You keep track of the resources you identify and as you observe needs, like to make the connections between the two.
You're a Life-long Learner
You are committed to becoming the best you can be by being open to personal, professional, and spiritual development. Learning is an important part of our culture and necessary to navigate the challenges of volunteer mobilization and community transformation.
If this is you...
Please email your resume to Andrew@NLFW.org.
For more information on NeighborLink Fort Wayne, visit, www.NLFW.org.
NeighborLink Fort Wayne is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.