Dance Parties, Comfy Shoes, and a New Perspective

Lisa Gajewski   -  

This week we’re talking with Lisa Gajewski about her experience volunteering with Arise, IBC’s ministry to individuals with special needs. A long-time IBCer, Lisa started attending in 2004 and has been volunteering with Arise for the last eight years. A big thanks to Lisa for giving us a peek into this amazing ministry!

How did you wind up volunteering for Arise?
I needed to do a service project for Bible study and saw that they needed volunteers at Respite, which they hold one Saturday a month to give parents and caregivers a chance to recharge. I signed up to volunteer and had the best time. Eventually I started volunteering on Sunday mornings as well.

Describe a typical Sunday morning volunteering.
Is there a typical Sunday in Arise? I feel like half the fun is that each Sunday is different. I greet every family that comes in the door then head inside. Our participants can choose where they want to be, whether it is the calm room with bubbles, the sensory room with the swing, or the classroom with drawing or puzzles. Our most popular area is the stage where we play worship videos the entire service—I am typically there having a dance party (possibly to “Joyful, Joyful” from Sister Act 2).

What’s your favorite part about working with Arise?
I love our participants! Each of them is uniquely made and gifted. I enjoy getting to know them and seeing what they love doing, whether that is playing tic-tac-toe, bouncing a ball, pretending to be in a tornado, or dancing to worship songs. There is nothing better than seeing one of our participants run into the Arise space. They know that IBC is a place where they are safe, loved, and valued. They are image-bearers of Christ, and that is beautiful.

How have you grown or changed as a result of your experience?
Serving in Arise has given me perspective and made me less selfish. Like anyone, there are days I do not necessarily feel like volunteering; however, my one to three hours of serving gives a parent time to breathe, rest, regroup, and connect with others. I never regret the time I spend serving these families, and I always leave feeling closer to God.

What would you tell someone considering volunteering?
No experience is needed! I think people are intimidated or think they need a particular skill set to serve individuals with special needs. You just need to have a great attitude and comfy shoes. We can always use help on Sunday mornings or every fourth Saturday evening for Respite. Come have fun with us!!