Ron Kuczera could have passed for a guy who went 10 rounds in a boxing ring. He looked like he had a pair of black eyes at the end of the day as he exhaustedly sat and enjoyed a well-deserved popsicle. But he wasn’t a beaten and bruised man from some kind of tussle. It was sweat, dust, and dirt that caked on his face after hours of labor at one of the Step Out & Serve sites.
Step Out & Serve is an initiative of Shepherd’s Gate, Shelby Twp. based on 1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” The church website describes the event this way: “Step Out & Serve is a time when we come together to give back to our community. It’s what Jesus calls us to do. We gather for two days to paint, landscape, fix up houses and more throughout the metro-Detroit area.” Step Out & Serve started in 2009 with 22 sites. Ten years later, it has grown substantially—they served at 36 sites this past August.
Kuczera, the volunteer who wore the mask of dirt like a badge of honor, is one of the church members and the Step Out & Serve Coordinator. He poured endless hours into coordinating sites, getting volunteers, and all the behind the scenes happenings.
The sites are chosen based on needs in the community. This year, Step Out & Serve partnered with the Wave Project—a non-profit that helps the homeless in Macomb County by providing mobile showers. Donations for hygiene kits and for items to use in their mobile shower unit were collected through Step Out & Serve. 100 of 100 hygiene kits were filled, as well as 135 of 180 items to help with their shower supplies. Mission 13 (a program at Shepherd’s Gate where they give 13% of their yearly income to help other Christian ministries, community organizations, and individuals who need assistance) contributed an additional $610 to complete their list. Step Out & Serve also added new ways to bless communities by getting donations for teacher kits, backpacks, and school supplies for Honduras.
To build excitement and get their members and guests to volunteer for Step Out & Serve, Shepherd’s Gate’s Communications Team utilized all their communication channels. They ran ads/posts on social media leading up to the event, sent emails, ran announcement slides within the church, gave verbal announcements during worship services, ran ads on their website, and made promo videos to use in church and on social media. They also had t-shirts made with their Step Out & Serve logo for people to purchase and wear while serving. To cap things off, they had all their site leaders send photos to their Social Media Coordinator so that they could post photos on social media throughout the weekend to give their followers an inside look into what happened at each site.
So many great things happen when we serve others. At the Paladino site, homeowner Marc was speechless. “I am in awe of the outpouring of love and generosity. God uses our human hands, feet, and backs!” The team built a large structure for their garden, cleaned out gutters, trimmed trees/bushes, weeded, and moved rock. At the Patrice Brown site on the lower east side in Detroit, the Step Out & Serve team gutted the house down to the studs so the homeowner could rebuild. A local farmer even left his business for the day to bring a wood chipper and proceeded to work alongside the team for the entire day.
Step Out & Serve is a hand-up, not a hand-out. It’s meant to help people in the community get a fresh start, improve their circumstances, and show the love that Jesus has for each and every one of us. If you would like to learn more about Step Out & Serve or partner with the Shepherd’s Gate community next year, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured photo and video by Jeff Heisner