REAL MOMS, REAL ADVICE
Features writer Amy Bredeson writes about Lowcountry moms who have advice to share. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bluffton mom Christy Long says she feels that God has called her to connect people. She especially enjoys connecting people with opportunities to volunteer.
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As the leader of a local Christian outreach program called ServeFest, she links her church, Live Oak Christian Church, with local nonprofit groups such as the Boys & Girls Club, Bluffton Self Help and Habitat for Humanity. Church members then volunteer their time helping those groups with various projects.
Long also connects people through her roles in Community Bible Study and the Philanthropic Educational Organization. The stay-at-home mother of three is the children's director of the CBS Bluffton day class, which means she trains the teachers and supplies them with lesson plans. And with PEO, she looks for women who need loans, grants or scholarships and then helps them apply.
Question. How do you have time for all this?
Answer. I feel like I'm the luckiest girl in the world because my husband, because of his job that I get to stay at home. I mean, I loved working. I was a flight attendant. I worked for Delta for 16 years, but I feel like this is my favorite job in the whole wide world. I love staying at home, and I love being with the kids.
Q. Why do you do all this?
A. I get blessed by it. It's a joy for me to do it. Most people think they don't have time to volunteer, but for me helping out in the schools and being involved in the organizations I'm involved in, I get joy from it. ... For me, it's seeing the people's faces after they've volunteered. They've made a connection. They've helped somebody. They feel good about themselves. I'm a behind-the-scenes person all the way. This interview bothers me because I don't like being out in front. I love making it all come together.
... I have a favorite story. A dear person, his name is Art Knaus. He's now passed away, but he moved here to retire and enjoy life with his wife. And his wife got sick and passed away. And he didn't really know what to do. So he signed up to help out with Vacation Bible School. And he had no idea what he was in for. And so I really held his hand through the whole thing -- his very first time volunteering. He had never done it before and didn't know how to do it. After that one week of Vacation Bible School, he took off and never stopped until he passed away. He ended up going into lots of the public schools and helped tutor and read to the classes. ... It gave him a purpose. It filled his days. His family was far away, so he wanted something to do. ... Seeing that happen -- that's what I love.
Q. Do you have any advice for other moms who would like to become more involved?
A. My favorite thing last year was SIC (School Improvement Council) at Okatie did a book club. So it was 20 minutes for a lunch break, and I loved going to that table every week and seeing these amazing faces wanting to discuss another chapter of the book. And that's all it took was just a few minutes. It doesn't take a lot to volunteer.
Q. What is something you struggle with as a mom?
A. There's a lot. I don't have the cleanest house on the block. Some things suffer, and that's OK. ... Have you ever heard it explained as the margins in your life? If you're looking at a piece of notebook paper, you want to make sure you have that extra time if you need to go to lunch with a friend or you need to make a meal. If you were so busy and so overscheduled, you won't have that time. So for me, it's protecting those margins to make sure that I do have time.
Q. What do you hope your kids will learn from your involvement in the community?
A. Most importantly, I just pray that they keep walking with the Lord, and I hope they know they can lean on him and get through anything. And I hope they give back. I hope they learn how important it is and how much we're created to do that. I mean we're meant to interact and to participate and to help. And you feel better when you do it.