For Charonda Woods, complacency has never been an option. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented for herself and her community over the past year, Charonda has faithfully volunteered at Shepherd’s Table and rallied her church to join her.
As the Outreach and Missions Coordinator for The Bridge DC, Charonda recognizes the importance of community investment. The church initially responded to the pandemic by pausing all in-person volunteer opportunities, as most organizations were forced to do. But by September 2020, Charonda was ready to see that change. The needs are great, and as Charonda identified poignantly, “People are ready to be cared for.” For herself and her church, that was reason enough to carefully and safely resume service opportunities.
Charonda assembles members of her church to come and serve monthly, typically in groups of four or five. She works to make volunteering accessible to all members, with some committed to showing up every week and others joining as they are able. To help cast the vision, she’s even worked with staff to plan a sermon to help church members understand the call to service. As the world slowly returns to some semblance of a pre-pandemic normal, Charonda and her church offer a beautiful example of prioritizing community engagement. Shepherd’s Table is thrilled to be an outlet for their love of neighbor.
For Charonda, loving others is embedded into her family’s DNA. “My parents never had to say, ‘Hey if someone’s hungry, feed them. If they need clothes, clothe them,” she remembers. “They led by example.” Her family was motivated by their Christian faith, the same faith that inspired Charonda to ultimately study at Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas and pursue a career centered around ministering to others. She points to Mark 10:45, a verse in the Bible that emphasizes Jesus’ sacrificial service rooted in love, as a model for her own calling. She’s specifically passionate about seeing the local church partner with organizations in the community to meet needs together. The Bridge DC shares this vision and has come alongside Charonda in this effort.
When Charonda was tasked with re-engaging service work in September 2020, Shepherd’s Table came to mind. She knew the church had engaged with Shepherd’s Table in the past and recognized it as an organization committed to serving Montgomery County. Additionally, the COVID-19 cautionary measures implemented at Shepherd’s Table to keep volunteers safe enabled the team to move forward in confidence. For Charonda, Shepherd’s Table provides an opportunity for her to express her faith in service and love, and invite her church to join her in doing so. Her time at Shepherd’s Table has led her to build relationships with several staff members, notably Chef Gary, Rob, and Mohammed. She’s enjoyed these meaningful relationships, and her presence is enriching to both our staff and our guests.
All the services our clients receive are made possible because volunteers like Charonda willingly give of their hearts and time. As the world reopens, the needs in Montgomery County are still great. It will take all of us to build back a better world where no neighbor goes hungry. If you would like to learn more on how your house of worship or community organization can join in the work Shepherd’s Table is doing, reach out to Jilna Kothary at [email protected] Every member of Montgomery County has a place at our table, and we can’t wait to serve together.