Tim and Gwen Hershberger, currently of Goshen Indiana, will be serving as the new Directors of the Phoenix SOOP program and Hosts of our Guest house effective October 26, 2019.
They owned and operated a custom home building company in Goshen for 20 years. Since 2007 Tim has been working as a bi-lingual mortgage loan officer, specializing in assisting the Spanish-speaking community and Gwen served as the Volunteer Coordinator at Church Community Services in Elkhart, Indiana. Both have recently retired .
Gwen and Tim have also served with Mennonite Disaster Service and will be serving in Puerto Rico for 2 months with MDS this summer. They look forward to sharing their gifts with the Phoenix SOOP program this win.
How does one close down a three-year run at SOOP Glendale? A place of (mostly) sun, (some) winter warmth, engaging friendships, meaningful volunteer partners, a highly supportive governing board in Hospitality Services Center, and a welcoming church that tolerates our frequent comings and goings and warmly welcomes us back every fall. We have absolutely loved this assignment. It seemed to fit both our abilities and interests and has been so rich in relationships and deeply life-giving though mentally, physically and emotionally challenging working 16-hour days week in and week out for a five- month stretch. So why are we leaving that behind? The reasons are multiple.
The biggest downside of this assignment is splitting our lives between two communities we love. We are happy both here and in Harrisonburg but find that it is hard to stay connected to either group well when we are gone half the year. We moved to Harrisonburg six years ago to be near family and put down roots in a small community that we could fall back on in our aging days....we hope many days down the road. It’s time to work on that phase of our lives.
In addition, our children have always supported our time here, but we also know that we committed to being available when they need us, and that is hard to do when we are tied in to this for half the year. Not only have they had to step up to the plate and take care of our property at home with never a word of complaint, but our neighbors have been absolute gifts to us by watching our house daily. We could not have done this as carefree as we have without both of those components filling in the gaps from our gadding about.
Finally, Ben hopes to engage in more hands-on activities attending to his garden, bees and potential involvement with MDS. I, on the other hand, gave up swinging cement blocks and roofing houses a long time ago. I would be the Mennonite disaster on the work site! I hope to become more engaged at my favorite used bookstore, Booksavers of Virginia, the local MCC thrift store. We don’t have any exotic travel plans or exciting roles to fill. Except to hide in Harrisonburg for a while, dig in the flower beds, take walks down quiet lanes, read a book for 30 minutes without at least three interruptions, take some time to hang out with family, and process life in the slower lane.
Things we’ll miss here: constant energy in the house; saying hello to new and returning SOOPers; shuffling said SOOPers to and from their volunteer spots and hearing their resultant anecdotes; planned and executed delicious full-course dinner meals every night created by someone other than me; stimulating dinner conversations on every topic under the sun; praying together over common concerns; shopping for food on someone else’s credit card; free Trader Joe date-sensitive food reclamation; gallons of freshly-squeezed orange juice gleaned from a P.M. excursion picking someone’s backyard oranges; regular walks across the street to see Peter and Rheta Mae and learn from their masterful examples of aging with wisdom and grace; interaction with our partnering agencies and participating in all the good services they provide for the needs in Phoenix; group excursions exploring the greater Phoenix area.
Things we won’t miss: constant energy in the house; saying goodbyes to SOOP guests; buying 72-roll packs of toilet paper twice a month; making a pass by the banana stand every trip to the grocery store (TP and bananas can NOT be overstocked!); mopping the dining/kitchen floors every morning after the volunteers leave for work; sectioning bushels of gleaned grapefruit for easier eating in the early morning rush to work sites; three meals a day complete with dessert; loading and unloading the dishwasher multiple times a day; endless hours on the computer scheduling arrival/departure dates, room space and daily volunteer sites.
So all of that to say, we both feel that now is the time to move on. The HSC board will find good people to fill the gap, but we will miss it terribly. I dread the day of our departure in April, but God-willing we’ll make the bend in the road without crashing and burning. We certainly take a huge piece of this place with us and will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve with HSC/SOOP in Glendale. Each of you, whether board member, SOOP member, or church member, has been such a gift to us. Thank you for the opportunity to serve alongside of you.
Hospitality Services Center, in partnership with Goldensun, is providing transportation on Sunday mornings from Glencroft Retirement Center to Trinity Mennonite Church. We team up with Goldensun in using their van with wheelchair and lift capabilities which allows those who are unable to drive as well as those with disabilities to now have the opportunity to attend Sunday morning services at Trinity. Volunteer drivers, who also volunteer in transporting Goldensun members, have volunteered to drive for this service.