Four years ago, Mason City Church member Joyce Pinke was talking with her insurance provider when the company’s representative asked Pinke if she would be willing to do volunteer work. According to Pinke, the insurance company encourages all their customers to volunteer. Initially Pinke did not want to volunteer because she had already done a lot of volunteer work, but after hearing the needs of the local Youth for Christ (YFC) organization she decided to look into it.
According to YFC’s website, it is an organization that works with local churches and “like-minded partners” to reach young people with the love of Jesus. In Mason City, Iowa, young people meet at the YFC building every Thursday evening.
Pinke attended one of the YFC meetings and immediately saw a need. She overheard attendees say they were hungry and had not eaten supper, even though it was past 8 p.m.
After witnessing YFC’s need to feed attendees firsthand, Pinke met with her friend and fellow church member Janet Cleveland to discuss how the Mason City Church could help.
“YFC was looking for churches to provide food,” Cleveland explained. “And nobody responded. … I said, ‘Why don’t we do it all?’”
Pinke and Cleveland spoke with their church about the opportunity. Two more members decided to join the team. The volunteers agreed to prepare food weekly and serve YFC attendees.
“The first night we didn’t know anything,” Pinke said. “We made three great big roasters of chili. [The young people] didn’t even eat one.”
Over time, the team from Mason City Church learned food preferences and developed relationships with the attendees, according to Pinke.
“The kids know this is something for them to come to every Thursday night,” said Carrie Engel, Mason City Church member and YFC volunteer. “They know we’ll be here. It gives them a sense of stability.”
Greater Iowa YFC Ministry Director Katie Zickefoose said she is appreciative of the service provided by the volunteers from the Mason City Church.
“The Mason City Church volunteers serve with such humility and kindness,” Zickefoose said. “I’m beyond grateful for our partnership — I can’t imagine YFC without them.”