There are many parishioners at St. John’s Cathedral who share their time, talents, and compassion with our neighbors at the VMC. Over the coming weeks a series of their stories will be published here.
Sally Gouffon has spent 26 years endeavoring to help clients of VMC improve their lives by listening to their stories, offering financial assistance, educating them on self-care, and creating a deep connection with them. She spends one day per week working triage at the front desk – helping clients fill out paperwork, determining the level of help they require, answering the phone, maintaining a peaceful environment in the waiting area, and so much more. Sally has gone to the hospital for births, celebrated baby showers and birthday parties in low-income housing developments, and has met wonderful people who have taught her much about sharing, hope, and forgiveness. There have been those who have made her very sad because of their addictions and life choices; some suffer extreme mental illness and will not stay on medication. They have no family and no support system or sense of community such as we enjoy at the Cathedral. Sally shared one especially sweet moment over lunch on Market Square with one of VMC’s neighbors. The woman saved up enough money to go to lunch, Dutch treat, and kept saying, “Look at us. We’re out to lunch together just like regular people.” It’s those moments in relationship with people that have kept Sally serving all these years. She says, “Relationship means more to people than the things we give out. You realize that connection when you find in yourself that we are all the same.”
Andy Hampson and his family were recruited years ago by Robert and Carney Ivy to help make and serve breakfast for the VMC on the second Sunday of each month. When Caroline and Drew were just four and five years old, Andy and Shannon started taking the kids to serve. They wanted them to know that world. “As parents, it was one of the the best things we ever did,” said Andy. He feels that the ministry is as much for the people who do the serving as it is for those being fed, and said that he’s never walked out of the VMC not feeling the sensation of having done something he was called to do. Now Andy leads the volunteer effort, having amassed a long list of St. John’s families who love to serve. Andy jokes that he has to “ride herd on ‘em until they go for the first time, then you can’t get rid of them! We could easily do this two times a month.” The list of those who serve is long and includes the families Avery, Cantrell, Davenport, Farabow, Gentry (Mack and Cheryl, as well as Tucker, Claire and the kids), Ivy, Walker Ivy, Noël, Peabody, Karen Ray, Wilbanks, Wilds, and Wolfe.