A Volunteer’s Story: Where God Wanted Her to Be

She took the guys bowling once a month.Moira Winter started volunteering at House of Refuge Sunnyslope (HRS) approximately 18-20 years ago. She came to cook one night to cover as a favor for an acquaintance and stayed. Little did she know how God would use her in the next 20 years and beyond.

Dinner with the guys

Dinner with the guys

She connected with the men. She was raised with two big brothers and Moira played pro racketball — an athlete in the men’s world. For many years, she took the men bowling once a month and served as “House Mom.” She really enjoyed having dinner with the guys.

“It was very clear to me that this was where I was supposed to be after the first time.”

Serving on the Board

Moira served on the board for many years and was the President for over 4 years.  Some of the most exciting times were purchasing a new property.

She remembers when they bought the apartment complex to expand transitional housing to single moms and their children — the start of House of Hope. She was against it initially. She feared that “we didn’t offer a ‘safe house'”, that there was no protection, but 8 years later it is all well and going strong.

The Miller house and Fuhst house were also built during this time.

Tuesday night volunteers

Tuesday morning volunteers

Connecting a Church

She’s a member of Chaparral Christian Church and her passion for serving at HRS overflowed and she recruited several friends from church — some who are still serving on the board. Eventually, HRS became a “domestic mission” for Chaparral. That was a first for the church as they had only support overseas missions.

“That was totally new territory for them.” 

Baptisms are great

She loves the baptisms.

The Ups and Downs of Servanthood

Over the years she has developed friendships with many of the residents. She has met them during the first week they’ve been here. She has seen them grow and flourish and had many opportunities to speak into their lives about how God has worked in her life and how He can work in theirs. Many years ago, several men asked for her to be involved in their baptisms because of the influence she had on them.

“What’s so neat about here is that it becomes so very personal.” 

Moira with some of the guys

Robin, Mother Moira, and Juan just relaxing, circa 2011

Mixed in with the joy of seeing peoples lives restored, there are the hard times too. “There are some residents who don’t make it. There are times when it rips your heart out. You feel that things are moving along for a guy or a family, then it’s very sad to see those who don’t absolutely make it in a straight line.”

“You sometimes get personally invested in their lives.”

Moira & friendThe ones who come here, and succeed, are serious about turning their lives around. She sees many former residents around the neighborhood — some are successful, some not so much and are just getting by.

Recently, Moira went out to get yogurt with her husband and into the yogurt place walks Roberto, a former resident, with his son. A guy who went through this program, graduated, started a business, and now has a very successful life and a family.

“It’s amazing what God has done here.”

She’s back to cooking Tuesday mornings in the kitchen, preparing meals for nights when there aren’t any volunteer cooks.  When asked what she likes best about volunteering at HRS, she highlighted two things:

  • It’s all about connecting residents to God.
  • Every donated dollar goes directly into working in these people’s lives.

“It’s small enough that it’s still so very personal. 

“I encourage my friends to get involved and support HRS in whatever way works for them.

“There’s nothing about HRS that I don’t support and just love about it — the way it works, they way we come alongside families or people. It’s very personal. It’s what that person needs to get their lives back together.”

Pictured above: Tam, Angie and Moira, the Tuesday morning crew in the Kitchen.

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