When it comes to extending a helping hand to Bell County, UMHB is not one to hesitate. On Oct. 25, students and faculty went to 15 locations to provide support to the extended community. The event is known as Reaching Out. It is organized by the Student Government Association chaplains, and it happens once every semester.
Tommy Wilson, director of SGA spiritual life, was one of the main coordinators, and he said there is much more than just seeking to help others in need.
“The biggest thing that I pray students walk away with is that it is not about me. I hear so many times people say you should serve others. It feels good to help someone,” Wilson said.
“The reason we serve is not to feel good but to answer the call and command that God has placed on our lives. I pray that students know that we have been given a lot in Christ. So in the same love, we should give a lot to others.”
The planning process for Reaching Out is detailed and comes down to being mindful of others.
“We must first stop and seek what it is God would want us to do and from there plan the service projects out. We must think of every possible problem that could happen and how to correct it, then go into it praying for the best,” he said.
This is Wilson’s first year to be in the position, and he has been gaining wisdom every step of the way. To him it’s about much more than just planning the event and people showing up to serve.
“I am learning in all of this how to be a real servant leader and not just someone who holds a title, but to love the body I work with and lead them along the path of Christ.”
Dr. George Harrison, director of student relations and community services, has been a part of putting the project together for the past six years.
He is always amazed to see how many students attend the event and is grateful to know that each one has come to serve in some form.
“Their time is so valuable, and I know that it is a sacrifice. It’s not only the students, but faculty and staff also,” Harrison said.
Since Reaching Out started, the locations being helped have extended to places outside of Belton and have impacted surrounding areas.
Reaching Out gives a new perspective and connection to the students, faculty and staff because they are ministering in an entirely different setting.
“They are working together for a common goal, and they can see life beyond the academic or the work side of student affairs of just wanting to take care of business,” he said. “It’s outside the box and helps them to bond.”
Harrison said there are two purposes of Reaching Out.
“The first main goal is to help the community and to show the love of Christ through UMHB, and the second is to also make a great impact on our students in community service. There is nothing like helping people to make an awareness to bring about a paradigm thought of helping people to help others grow,” Harrison said.
Sophomore Lindsey Weaver, a business finance major, was a leader for the Ronald McDonald House, one of the sites, and has realized that the experience continually opens her eyes to those in need.
“The Ronald McDonald House has become a place of comfort and refuge for families,” she said. “It is amazing to know that our community has opened their arms up to the families of our area hospital’s patients.”
Weaver arrived at Reaching Out ready to serve but received much more than she had planned.
“I was focused on getting jobs done and helping out the organization. Little did I know, we would learn the people’s stories,” she said.
“There was a woman there with twins, one still in the hospital; we got the opportunity to pray for her and her children.”