Birmingham Baptist Association
Friday, May 26, 2017

No excuse NOT to volunteer

You have no excuse NOT to volunteer — not if you have ever met a lady named Avanelle Weldon, that is.

Avanelle is an awesome woman. She is 91 years old and has been a volunteer at the Medical Apartments for over eight years. I have known her for the past two years, and I have been so blessed by her. Many times I witness her "arguing" with other volunteers from Dawson over who will clean a bathroom. She is not arguing because she doesn’t want to clean it but because she wants to be the one to do it. So many times she ends up on her hands and knees cleaning apartments.

A group from Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, where Avanelle has been a member since 1960, comes and cleans apartments once a month. Glenda Harris, another member of the Dawson group said: "Avanelle came into my life after I had lost my mother. I always had the idea that aging was depressing, until I met her. I saw the most mentally and physically energetic senior citizen that I had ever met. God sent her to me to remind me that you don’t have to age the way I had seen it done, but that you can age beautifully, as she has."

Kimeron Stephens, another volunteer from Dawson said: "I remember one time Avanelle and I came by ourselves to clean. We argued as to who would get on the floor to clean. Guess who won? Yes, Avanelle won. She has taught me that it is possible to age gracefully."

"I felt strongly that I could be useful by helping with this ministry," Avanelle said. "I knew that I could clean house. It has been very meaningful to me because of the people that we have served. When people are ill, they are very vulnerable and needy, both spiritually and physically. This is a rare opportunity to minister to people in their need. I have had the opportunity to demonstrate a willingness to serve a God who is interested in our whole being. I had the opportunity to share my faith with people and contribute something to them in their time of need. It has been a real blessing to me."

Over eight years ago, Avanelle read in her church bulletin about a need for people to help clean apartments. She called Glenda Harris and volunteered her time. Since then, she has been a faithful worker.

Avanelle had quadruple bypass surgery in January of 2000. This slowed her down for a short time, but within six months, she was back at the Medical Apartments cleaning. She says that God has given her each day and year and that she needs to utilize every minute of her time. She contributes her time all to living out her faith, for she says that without that she would be nothing.

Avanelle volunteers with many projects beyond the the Medical Apartments. She has been a tutor with the Birmingham Baptist Association’s Literacy Department for over four years. She has taught Conversational English at Dawson. She has worked with the "Better Basics" reading program with public schools. She is a member of Seasoned Performers, a senior adult theater group associated with the Jefferson County Office of Senior Citizens Activities. Seasoned Performers visits churches, nursing homes, retirement homes, and schools to perform readings and plays.

Volunteering is such an important part of her life. We can learn so much from just knowing Avanelle Weldon. "The business of not being busy is not good for anyone. Learn to have fun and stay busy. It is important to do something that is useful," she says.

Now you have no excuse NOT to volunteer. If Avanelle can do it, so can you. I hope that her life has sparked your thoughts on volunteering. Thanks Avanelle, for teaching a lesson to us all. You have made a choice to be happy and to help people along the way. May we all have that same goal as you.

-Donna Creech, medical apartments director

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