The whole reason I know today’s guest poster so well is that we’re in the Freed-Hardeman University Associates together. =) I love, love working with Debbie – she is full of clever ideas and she really knows what she’s doing in event planning! But she’s also just plain fun to hang out with. 😉 And I count her friendship, along with cultivating friendships with numerous other ladies of all age groups, as one of my biggest blessings in volunteering with the FHU Associates. Working with the Associates has been a Very Good thing in my life. I think you’ll enjoy reading about it from Debbie’s perspective! ~Kristen
I’m a small town girl. I had plenty of college options, but I decided to come to the Christian university across the river that nobody back home had ever heard of and I FOUND MY PLACE. A place to blossom, to mature, to expand. Big enough that it was huge for me coming from such a small town, but small enough to give me the same love and support that I had back home. I had a great university experience and I wish so much that all students could have that same opportunity.
Flash forward through years of working and grad school to 1996 – the year that my husband accepted a job teaching at FHU. Suddenly we are back in Henderson with a different perspective. Each fall I see hundreds and hundreds of students flooding our campus and want so much for each one of them to have the same great experience I had, to love their time here and to blossom and grow. I know that I cannot wave a magic wand and make that happen but I sure can do my little bit to provide an opportunity.
There are SO MANY WAYS to be involved, to give back and to support our FHU students and our university. Let me tell you about one of those that I think is pretty great. I’ve been working with FHU Associates for over 20 years now (!) and, yes, I’ve helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars so that as many students as possible have the opportunity to have a life-changing 4 years at FHU. But that’s not even the best part. I love being a part of a driven group of women who love God, love FHU, love students, and love Christian education – and who want to do their part to provide that opportunity to as many students as possible. I love being able to tell people, “All of our proceeds go straight to student scholarships!” I love the relationships I have made, the brainstorming sessions I’ve been a part of…the planning, the taste-testing, the uncontrollable laughter, the road trips, the flour flying at cooking parties…all of which add up to life-long friendships. I have been given opportunities to hone my leadership skills. I have been challenged to come up with something new and different – and have been supported through thick and thin. I have become a skilled event planner, project manager, and cheerleader all through my work with the FHU Associates.
The FHU Associates are a group of women, working in different “chapters” across the South, who complete different projects to raise money for FHU student scholarships. We give around $75,000 each year! And have for more than 50 years. =) What a great organization. What a great purpose. What a great opportunity for involvement.
What am I going to do in Henderson as an ADULT? Last time I lived here, I was 18 and a student.
How am I going to cope with the fact that all the grocery stores close at 9 p.m.?
Will I make friends?
What am I going to do now that I am not working? (I was a new mom at the time and had decided not to work outside the home for a while)
I laugh now at the thought of asking myself how to keep busy in little Henderson, TN – and those of you who know me well, just chuckle along with me (I see you rolling your eyes).
When the FHU Associates were first formed way back in 1963, one of the reasons was to “give the women something to do.” Oh, let me chuckle a little bit more. Yes, our demographic and culture have changed quite a bit. Today we almost run screaming from the room if somebody asks us to do JUST ONE MORE THING. But the mission of the Associates has stayed the same, even if the demographic of the membership has changed.
Is it hard to find time to be a part of a volunteer organization like the FHU Associates? It can be. But, you know, like my long-time friend once said, “Somebody has to be the one to bring the crackers.” Maybe you cannot imagine having the time or skills to make homemade chicken and dressing for an event but maybe you can buy crackers if they are needed. Maybe you can give money to help cover expenses. Maybe you can be a cashier for one hour. Maybe you can work on a fun project that allows you to visit with friends, learn a new skill, and encourage those around you – all while supporting Christian education.
Can you spare the time to make friends, to form relationships with university students, to shine a heavenly light wherever you go and however you represent? I hope you find that our cause inspires you. If you want to find out more information about the projects that the FHU Associates are currently involved in (OOOH, just ask Kristen or me about the Victorian Tea Party or Beloved FHBrew Coffeeshop – they are SO COOL and amongst our favs). Do you love going to Goodwill or junk stores to find hidden treasures? Then working with our twice-yearly HUGE Rummage Sale is for you. Do you have a fabulous idea for a fundraising project? We’d love to hear it!! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Debbie McLaughlin works for the Estes Church of Christ and with the FHU Associates. She has used her background in Accounting and Computer Information Systems in her many volunteer projects and her professional career as well. Debbie is married to John McLaughlin, English professor extraordinaire, and is mother to Ethan and Bishop, the best boys men on the planet. She will soon add another title – mother-in-law! Debbie is a sign language interpreter, a CPA, a moderate crafter, and a joyful traveler, regularly working with FHU’s Study Abroad Program.
Interested in other posts in our Connections series? Check these out!
Connections: Creating Opportunities for Christian Fellowship
Connections: How to Set Up a Women’s Mentoring Program