A Journey of Service: Summer Miller’s Volunteer Experience

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(Left to right) Grace Foster and Summer Miller

With her new office flooded with documents, boxes and files left over from years of documentation, Lake Ridge Fellowship House’s newly appointed Service Coordinator, Grace Foster, needed help. The mess left her feeling cramped and created additional challenges when trying to assist residents. She reached out to Fellowship Square’s Volunteer Program Manager in hopes of finding volunteer administrative assistance, and was put in touch with Summer Miller, a Woodbridge native and Northern Virginia Community College student. Soon after, what was meant to be a one-off volunteer position would soon become a one-hundred-hour service project for Summer.  This opportunity allowed her to become involved as a volunteer health presenter and impact residents in a personal way.

Coming in on her first day at Lake Ridge Fellowship House, Summer admitted to feeling excited but a little nervous. She had worked in volunteer roles in the past but described them as often unwelcoming experiences where she felt like she couldn’t ask for help when she needed it. With Grace, she felt the exact opposite. “Grace was so warm and welcoming, and she made me feel comfortable right away,” Summer said adding that, “Grace was always offering to connect me with others in my field.” As they worked together to catalog, label, and sort boxes upon boxes, Summer says that it didn’t feel like ‘work’; it was a truly enjoyable time. Grace has mentored in the past and said of Summer that she “saw great potential in her” and wanted to help her reach her goals.

As Grace got to know Summer, she learned that Summer was pursuing a degree in nursing. Grace thought it would be a great learning opportunity for Summer to help with the monthly health seminars offered at Lake Ridge for residents. The opportunity to put her knowledge and research skills to work intrigued Summer, and she got to work right away to assist with Grace’s January Glaucoma Awareness seminar. Summer says, “I had a lot of ideas [for the presentation] and it seemed like a great responsibility to be trusted to help educate the people who live [at Lake Ridge Fellowship House].” After doing a great job, Grace allowed her to present the next month’s seminar, Heart Health Awareness.

Summer describes the Lake Ridge community as feeling like family and loves getting to know so many different personalities. Her own family was so touched by the trust Grace had put in her, that they gave Grace a gift of gratitude: a seashell inscribed with meaningful bible verses . The bond that Grace and Summer formed doesn’t end with her hours at Lake Ridge as Grace is planning to take Summer to her favorite Italian restaurant to continue their friendship.

Written By: Kristen Fitzgerald, Volunteer Program Manager