Author Archives: Cameran Smith

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Barrett

“A person is a person, no matter how small.”  -Dr. Seuss

Many of today’s preteens and teens receive a bad rap of being self-absorbed or too glued to their phones to give an ounce of thought to the world around them.  However, at Real Life Church, we have many of our StudentLife participants seeking to combat such accusations.  While they would admit to loving their phones (and maybe having a slight panic attack if they were detached from them),  they insist that they love the people around them even more.

One such student is Mary Barrett–who sacrifices an extra hour or two of sleep on Sunday mornings to serve our smallest church members.

Mary is a freshman at Warren East High School, and a regular attendee of StudentLife on Wednesday nights at Real Life Church.  During her down time, she is either cutting up with her friends or losing herself in a book.  She first attended RLC when a friend of her mother’s invited the whole family to attend for a week.  They enjoyed their visit so much that they decided to stay and become members.

After awhile, Mary decided to invest herself in the preschool room, and has served as an assistant for the last several months.  She realized the importance of spending time with the little ones early on: “I really just love the kids, and knowing that I’m helping lead them closer to God…”  Her faithfulness in not only StudentLife, but also in serving KidsLife, has earned her a place in the Spotlight this month.  Reach out to her and let her know how much she is truly appreciated each and every week!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jesus “JP” Mora

“Remember when Facebook used to tell you who was near, after you checked-in somewhere?  Well, I would get real excited when I would check-in at Real Life Church, and it would say ‘Jesus’ is nearby!'”  -Anonymous member of the QuarterLife small group

The “Jesus” referred to was not the divine Son of God, but JP Mora– who is an integral part of Real Life Church.  JP was born in Lan Luis, Mexico but ended up in Bowling Green by the end of 1994.  Even though he moved to Louisville for 10 years, he came back to BG to “try my hand at being an entrepreneur,” and has made himself a home here.

For those who don’t know, he owns Mex-Out, which is obviously “the best Mexican restaurant in the entire world (an unbiased opinion).”  For those who have never tasted the heavenly experience of Mex-Out’s tacos, it is open Monday through Saturday, and is located on Veterans Memorial Hwy (you’re welcome for the advertisement, JP).

When he’s not managing his restaurant, you can find JP “[cruising] in my Jeep Wrangler with the top off, [jumping] off cliffs and other dangerous heights, [traveling] to Mexico for weeks at a time, or [watching] Netflix with my pretty girlfriend.”  And while the “Jesus” jokes may become a little mundane, JP Mora is proud of his faith, and so continues to serve his church faithfully and consistently.  “I’m a beast at the drums…Holla!” (humble boast), and so he has played for Real Life Church ever since the movie theater days.  Music is his way of joyfully bringing glory to God, and his passion for it is what landed him in the Spotlight for this month.  So be sure to show JP some love for his faithful drum playing and (more importantly) his tacos!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Whitney Sloan

Alabamian by birth, Tennessean by heart, Whitney Sloan moved from Columbia to Bowling Green to attend Western Kentucky University after high school.  Now, she works as an office manager at Ryan’s Steakhouse, and lives in the south central town with her beautiful family.  While the family enjoys being active and loves to be outside kayaking or hiking, they also can’t resist a good Netflix show with a generous helping of junk food.

A couple years ago, her family began the hunt for a home church, and Whitney came across Real Life Church while driving down Scottsville Road.  They decided to visit the following week, and she experienced immediate acceptance:  “As soon as I walked through the front doors on our first Sunday, I felt relief and knew this was ‘home’.”  Whitney soon became involved, and began serving with the worship team.  RLC members agree that her love for Jesus shines through as she sings; she looks out to the crowd and “it is hard for me to hold back the tears…everyone is just praising and worshiping God in their own ways.  It is incredible!”

In addition to helping to lead worship every Sunday, Whitney also coordinates LifeGroups (so any questions you have about finding a small group or leading one should be directed to her!) and helps with NextSteps and the Dream Team.  She works hard and faithfully to ensure RLC’s volunteers find their place, and fulfill the purppse of their gifts and talents.

Take time out this week to show Whitney how much Real Life Church appreciates how willinginly she has investd her time and energy!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Summer Volunteering

As the school year ends, and the hot, sweltering summer months approach, many find themselves on a break (obviously not the dramatic, Ross-and-Rachel kind) and looking for something to do with their spare time (or their kids’ spare time).  Luckily, there are a myriad of opportunities for local volunteering.  These programs allow for individual, group, or even family participation.

1.The Medical Center:  During June and July, teenagers (14-17) are encouraged to donate at least one half day a week, while other volunteers are asked to donate 100 hours on a yearly basis.  All volunteers are required to be compassionate, patient, respectful of  confidentiality, attend a training, and complete an application, which can be found here:  http://mcbg.org/_documents/970005_Adult%20Vol%20Ap.pdf

2. The Center for Courageous Kids:  RLC is already acquainted with this program that encourages and uplifts kids with life-threatening illnesses, as our Hope Cafe has given monetary gifts in the past.  However, volunteers are also needed throughout the year, especially during the summer months.  For more information, and to fill out a volunteer application, follow this link:  http://www.thecenterforcourageouskids.org/volunteerOpp.html

3. Lost River Cave:  For the nature lover and explorer, Lost River Cave has various jobs for volunteers of all ages.  Trash clean up, preparing supplies for educational groups, and helping to maintain flowers and landscaping are among the things the small park needs.  In addition, if you have a special skill in photography, plumbing, electricity, or creativity, they could use you too.  View the other areas of need and complete the volunteer application here: http://www.lostrivercave.org/volunteer/

4. SkyPAC:  If you have an interest in the performing arts, then contact SkyPAC at 270-904-5000 to ask about becoming an usher for upcoming events and performances.

5. United Way:  This group is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and improve the community of Bowling Green, but needs volunteers to help make it possible. Participating with United Way can look like reading to children, delivering meals to low income families, or organizing a food drive; there are countless opportunities, and your summer can be quickly invested by visiting their site and clicking the “sign up now” button:  http://www.uwsk.org/get-involved/volunteering.html

6. Real Life Church:  Of course, if none of the above is for you but you’re still longing to find somewhere to get involved, talk with Pastor Brandon about the needs of RLC.  While there are opportunities to serve on Sunday mornings as a greeter, Sunday School teacher, tech team member, or in the praise band, there are ways to help out during the week too!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Natalie Perkins

Bowling Green native, Natalie Perkins, natalie 4has been a part of Real Life Church for nearly three years now.  Despite having no intention of becoming connected or getting involved, she has become a youth leader on the StudentLife team and a participant of the Room in the Inn ministry.  “[In 2014,] I was attending another church…I thought I would be moving for graduate school.  I didn’t want to get involved, or put in the time Natalie 5and effort to get connected [to RLC] if I wasn’t going to be here for much longer.”  As fate would have it, a friend’s car ended up in the shop and Natalie graciously gave her a ride to RLC, thinking that would be the one and only time she would step foot in the door.  However, she found that she loved the small church next door to Southern Lanes, and became a vital part in the youth and homeless ministries.

In the time since her first visit, she has learned what it means to simultaneously be a mentor and a servant.  When she is volunteering with the youth, she fosters an environment of individuality, acceptance, and fun, but also of “real talk” and meaningful conversations about faith.  “It’s rewarding to see spiritual growth, and knowing that I get to be a part of it by simply serving [the youth].”  Additionally, as she serves with RITI, she gets to observe RLC live out what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  “I’m so humbled to be able to serve the community as part of a church that lives and serves just like Christ.”Natalie 1

Natalie 2Natalie 3While serving is a major part of her daily life, it isn’t all that she does.  Natalie stays very busy, even during her down time, because she is living a true WKU graduate life:  Papers, projects, and very little sleep.  Therefore, most days that are not spent at Real Life Church are filled with research studies on self-harm and suicide, which will ultimately help her finish a Master’s in Psychology, with a concentration in Clinical Science.  Despite the time-consuming degree, she still focuses a lot of attention on playing with and walking her dog Riley at the dog park, reading a book for pleasure, and even trying out a baking recipe.  So it is quite miraculous that she manages to find time for RLC’s mission of reaching out to the community.  But she is passionate about that mission, and grateful that she gets to see it come to fruition.  “I see so much hurt and discontent with Christianity, working and learning in such a secular environment,” and she wants to witness a diminishing of those misconceptions.  Through her learning and volunteering experiences, Natalie is seeking to help close the gap between society and faith.  Her determination to see the Gospel spread landed her in the Spotlight this month.  Let’s send her a thanks for her patience, gentleness, perseverance, and loyalty!

 

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Volunteer Spotlight: Brenda Wells

If you find yourself in the halls near the KidsLife area Brenda 3before the 9:30 service at Real Life Church, then you are at least acquainted with the smiling face of Brenda Wells.  She serves the RLC families every week by checking in the kiddos before they head to their Sunday School classrooms. In addition, she helps with set-up and providing lunch for those in the Room in the Inn program during the winter months.  Modestly, she will tell you that she does not do much, but in reality, RLCers are greatly impacted by her faithful serving.Brenda 2

Though she was born in Germany and was practically raised in Minnesota, she pretty much calls the South home.  When her family moved to Atlanta, she experienced what she described as “MAJOR culture shock;” after a stint at a Tampa college, she moved back to Atlanta, only to be convinced to attend WKU:  “I agreed under the condition that I would only have to stay for 1 semester… That was 20 years ago!!  So I guess it’s time to start calling BG home!”

Brenda 4Outside of her ministerial volunteering, she works as a biologist at Mammoth Cave.  “My two areas of concentration are water quality and curating plant and animal specimens for research at the park.  I feel ridiculously blessed to be able to work in  such a beautiful park.  I even love to spend time with the family at the park on my days off (going to the cave, or hiking in the woods).”  When the Wells are not exploring the natural wonders of Kentucky, Brenda spends time at home either reading a book, playing with her kids (which includes, but isn’t limited to, perfecting the ideal scenario for AG dolls and racing the fastest Hot Wheel cars), or helping with homework (obviously not near as important as dolls or race cars, but somebody, somewhere demanded that it must be done).Brenda 1

Despite a week full of caves, homework, dolls, and cars, Brenda is sure to save time for investing in RLC.  “Hands down…seeing kids walk in that door Sunday morning [is the most rewarding part about serving]. Why? That is the future of God’s kingdom. THIS is what keeps me up at night. THIS is where my heart lies. What I want more than ANYTHING is for my kid’s to have a solid foundation and relationship with God. I don’t do a fabulous job at it, but I’m holding on to the hope that the Holy Spirit is filling in all my gaps. Parents! Thank you so much for bringing your kids every time you can! Teachers! Thank you so much for passing on the Word! Love you all!”  I think we can all argue that she DOES do a fabulous job, and the Holy Spirit definitely does more than fill in the gaps for her!  That is why she is in the Spotlight for this month.  Be sure to give Brenda a bit of encouragement when you see her!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Holiday Helping

The holidays have a tendency to coax a very generous personality out of the community, as it has been reported by websites such as Business Wire that over 70% of surveyors give more than normal during the holiday season.  While there are many who plan to budget for what they want to give, there are others who would like to participate, but are not sure where to start.  If you find yourself in the latter group, then take a look at the following list.  As Real Life Church strives to be a beacon in our community, there are several ways for our members to get involved locally.  Not only are there Bowling Green organizations accepting special monetary donations, but there are also those with special events and projects that strive off volunteer work.

Affordable Christmas with Hope House:  This special project focuses on selling new toys Picturefor 1/10 of the original price to low income families.  The parents are then able to buy and provide gifts for their kids, while maintaining their dignity.  Hope House is accepting monetary donations for buying the toys, donations of brand new toys, and will give information to individuals who would like to host a toy drive at their church or workplace.  For more information or to sign up to volunteer, visit www.hopehousebg.com/affordable-christmas.

Bell Ringing for Salvation Army:  Image result for bell ringing salvation armyLike every year, the Salvation Army asks for volunteers who are willing to be a bell ringer for an hour or two during the holidays.  For more information, call 270-843-3485.

Teen Angel with Community Education:  Families who need assistance during the holidays register for the Teen Angel program at Community Education.  Before Christmas arrives, clothes and other items are distributed to the families so that their teenagers can receive gifts.  If you would like to get involved, you can make a tax-deductible donation any time of the year by sending check or cash to 1227 Westen Ave.  You can also submit a gift card from Wal-Mart, Meijer, Target, K-Mart, Kohl’s, or the Greenwood Mall.

Be Santa to a Senior Program with Home Instead:  This local program targets seniors who may not typically receive gifts during Christmas, and it relies on volunteers to buy the gifts and/or help deliver them to the seniors’ homes.  Set up much like an Angel Tree, volunteers choose an “ornament” with a first name and a list of gifts attached.  Once these gifts are purchased, Home Instead coordinates with volunteers to wrap and deliver the presents.  To participate, follow this link:  https://www.beasantatoasenior.com.  On the website, you will be able to receive more information on how to find a senior tree, purchase gifts, and how to sign up to be a volunteer, if you wish to do so.

These are just a few ideas to help you and your family find involvement in the community during the holidays, but the list of opportunities is actually much longer.  If nothing else, there is also the option of starting an independent, volunteer endeavor.  Select a group you would like to impact, decide on the need that should be fulfilled, and then gather a few friends to help the vision take flight.  Whatever you decide to do, have fun and make this Christmas the best yet!

 

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jordan Jenkins

img_2315The Volunteer Spotlight has been moved to a monthly highlight, to give each volunteer a whole month to be recognized and appreciated, and this month we are shining the light on a very special lady:  Jordan Jenkins.

Every three years, the Jenkins find themselves on the move as Hezekiah follows a path the U.S. Army lays out for him.  This last move landed them in Bowling Green, and it wasn’t long before they found their home away from home.  Jordan described the img_2313difficult search of finding a church in the last town they resided, and they were determined to do better this time around:  “…when we were moving to Bowling Green, my husband did some research online and found [Real Life Church]. We attended RLC our first Sunday in Bowling Green, and it immediately felt like ‘home.'”

Between the two, Jordan and her husband have invested quite a bit of time, energy, and effort into Real Life Church.  Currently, Jordan can be found teaching Sunday School during the 9:30 service, but will soon transition to a classroom during the 11:00 service.  “I have a degree in education, and a passion for teaching, and it is so wonderful to be able to watch kids learn about God’s love for them.”

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When she’s not hanging out with the kiddos in KidsLife, she can be found hanging out with her own children at home. She jokes she doesn’t have free time as a stay-at-home-mom, and so I know I’m not alone when I say how grateful we are for the time she finds to invest in others at RLC.  So let’s take some of our time this month to show her how much she is appreciated!img_2312

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Volunteer Spotlight: Shelby Whitt

Beyond the black, thumbnail_img_2165double doors at Real Life Church, you can find more than just the restrooms and a small kitchen.  There is a whole other church service going on, one that involves crafts and fun Bible story videos.  It’s a time dedicated to those who are young enough to be barely crawling or walking. and it is led by some very special volunteers.  One of those volunteers is Shelby Whitt, who is a teacher in KidsLife Jr.  She faithfully serves every Sunday during the 9:30 service:  “I love to see the childthumbnail_img_2163like faith from the kids, and teaching them about Jesus!”

Shelby moved to Bowling Green from Goodlettsville, TN in 2010 with plans to attend Western Kentucky University. Through a minister at a campus ministry, she heard about RLC and how the church met in a movie theater.  The situation interested her, so she decided to visit and learn more about this church.  The next weekend, she attended with her boyfriend James, and thoroughly enjoyed her experience.

During her first Sunday, she couldn’t help but notice how welcomed she felt.  The friendly and accepting faces continued to bring her back week after week, till she decided to participate in Growth Track. thumbnail_img_2164 It was during that session when she learned how children’s ministry could be the right area for her to serve, and quickly recognized the things that made serving such a joy:  “I like developing relationships with the children!”  That intentional and relational focus is what earned Shelby the Spotlight, so be sure to thank her for her heart and hard work!

If you know of someone else who deserves the Volunteer Spotlight, contact Cameran Smith viaFacebook or at cameran.smith@warren.kyschool.us.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Abby Underwood

Frequent RLCers watch her deliver the video announcements most Sundays, never realizing they are listening to the aspiring best friend of Betty White… IMG_1815Or so she says.  Abby Underwood moved to Bowling Green with her family last year, after first residing in other exotic locations like Kansas, South Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee. IMG_1814Her attendance and involvement with Real Life Church was almost immediate.  “Nearly my whole life I’ve gone to ARC churches, so when we found out we were moving to Bowling Green we went to the ARC website and found RLC.”

Within the first couple of months, Abby was creating videos for RLC, like the aforementioned announcement videos.  “I love that I get the opportunity to do something that I love, like videography, editing, and performing in a church setting.”IMG_1812

When she is not filming RLC news, Abby can be found writing screenplays, working to sell her most current script to a network, playing ukulele, or bonding with her shorkie poo The Cuteness.

Abby truly brings an unique set of skills and talent to Real Life Church, so show her some love for sharing them!

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