A Captivated Heart

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” This quote by Albert Schweiter, philosopher, physician, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, holds great truth for all people.

“By the People for the People” blog has relayed to its readers what service opportunities are available in the Polk County region of Florida. Including various organizations such as the Dream Center, Lighthouse Ministries, and Parker Street Ministries, which strive to provide services that better their local community.

“Lakeland reminds me of a town that’s a tale of two cities. You have the enjoyment of Lakeside village and the swans on the lake. But you have another side of town where you see dilapidated houses and hopelessness. This is the Lakeland that God has called me too,” said Pastor Mike Cooper, the Executive Director of the Lakeland Dream Center.

Through this article, I will relate my first hand experiences of volunteering in order to give a unique perspective to you, the reader. The goal is to answer all questions that may arise when deciding where and how to volunteer. Questions such as, “How do I start?”, or perhaps, “Where can I be the most effective?” I hope to cover an array of issues that are practical and helpful for readers who are eager to make a lasting impact on the world they live in.

My name is Joshua Minerella, I am a sophomore at Southeastern University and the single most important lesson I have learned through volunteering is that true service is investing your time, emotions, and resources, while expecting nothing in return.

Upon arrival to Southeastern in Lakeland, FL I began to search for a place to volunteer. The first step that I took in order to get involved was simply sending emails to various nonprofits. Any person who is interested in community service should express their interest in a particular organization via telephone, email, or even stop by the headquarters. A clear indicator of an organization that is worth investing your time into is an organization that is eager to bring new people in and share their vision.

After contacting Steven Hill, who is now the Director at the Dream Center of Lakeland, I was immediately plugged into a program. The Dream Center had an established vision and allowed me to be a part of it. Initially, my role was to support the leaders and assist in any way possible. Rather than being concerned about ego or personal desire, it is necessary to become captivated with a cause greater than yourself.

Matthew Barnett, founder of LA Dream Center recently had stated at a conference at Victory Church in Lakeland FL, “Our community is not looking for people to understand, they are looking for people to show up.”

Over a year passed and I was still an active volunteer at the Dream Center. Through consistency and a willingness to help others I became a larger part of the collective vision. I was mentored and trained to a point where I am now able to mentor and train others myself. An organization that cares about the people they serve, cares about their volunteers because they too are being served.

I am currently involved in many aspects of the Dream Center. Most recently, I led students in the renovation of a newly acquired building to further the mission of the Dream Center. The goals for this building are to create more storage, a food bank and a life skills center, where people can learn practical trades such as carpentry. “The Dream Center is a training ground for all people,” says Pastor Mike Cooper.

The connections that I have made through the Dream Center are invaluable to my future not only in regards to a career, but more importantly my personal character. Through volunteering at the Dream Center I have been mentored by people with years of experience in various professions, networked, learned to observe, learned to lead and learned to serve. These lessons are what mold a person’s character.

A quote by Matthew Barnett that has completely changed my perspective on what it means to be a part of a cause greater than yourself reads, “If you want to be a bridge to the world, you have to allow yourself to be walked on.”

My full story involving personal growth through the Dream Center would be well over twenty pages. I have only highlighted points that have been particularly beneficial in my own life. I hope that through my personal experience you will be inspired to get involved in your own community, wherever that may be. My heart has been truly captivated by the vision and mission of the Dream Center locally in Lakeland and across the country.

What captivates your heart?

For more information about my journey or about how to get involved with a nonprofit contact me by clicking here. For further information about the mission of the Dream Center across the country check out these videos and links:

Joshua Minerella

Los Angeles Dream Center

Dream Center of Lakeland


One Response to A Captivated Heart

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: