Lena VanAusdle provides an update on current Good Works projects, as well as discussing with Victor Kubik the relationship between Good Works and LifeNets.
[Victor Kubik] This is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God. Today, our guest is Lena VanAusdel from Huntsville, Alabama. She works alongside her husband, Lewis, who is a ministerial trainee in that area. Good morning, Lena.
[Lena VanAusdel] Good morning. How are you?
[Victor] Thank you, we’re doing just fine. I’m glad to have you back on the podcast. You were talking here once before about your work as a ministerial trainee’s wife, but today we want to talk about something else. We want to talk about your work with Good Works, which is United Church of God’s outreach arm in serving in different ways. And we want to find out more about what it’s done, and what you’re doing, and why we do some of the things that we’re doing. So, tell us a little bit about Good Works, and your involvement in it, and where we’re going with it.
[Lena] Okay. Good Works started in 2003, and it was to meet needs that aren’t covered under normal budgetary items. Some of this, initially, was for disaster relief, and we do that. We keep a fund specifically for that, but we also have in the past built buildings in Africa and in Brazil, and we’ve dug wells, we’ve bought cattle, we’ve bought vehicles, we’ve done farming projects, we’ve done a lot of different things. We’ve also helped with rebuilding houses after fires, or after Haiyan, we, you know, had a hand in rebuilding houses there. So, those are the kinds of things that Good Works…they cover a wide span, wide range of different things that wouldn’t normally be covered under the budgetary items in United Church of God.
[Victor] Right. That’s very interesting to hear. I know that you can read more about Good Works by going to goodworks.ucg.org, and see all the projects that have been done, including an archive of former projects that have been done. I noted that, in the last couple of years, we’ve had projects that have involved Youth Corp, and have involved actual people being on-site, doing some of the projects.
[Lena] Yeah, we felt it was very important to…anyone can give money. Anyone can do that, and lots of organizations do that. But we have something special to offer with the Youth Corp, and with the Church of God in general is, we are a family, we are brethren, and it’s important for us to not get into the habit of just throwing money at something. And sometimes, if you have money, you give money, and if you have time, you give time, and some of our young people have a little more time, but they don’t necessarily have the money. So Youth Corp and Good Works have partnered so that we can…those that have money can support those that have the time, to go in and build relationships amongst the brethren in different areas, because we’re all over, we’re an international organization and we should be building relationships amongst those people. So that’s one of the goals of combining Good Works and Youth Corp, is to get people to those places where they might not normally meet.
[Victor] Well, what are some of those places? Where have you taken Youth Corp, and what kind of projects have they worked on?
[Lena] In the past…and I started working with Good Works and Youth Corp about four or five years ago. Since then, we have had a project in Guatemala, where we worked in an orphanage, and that was more of a community outreach program, but also we worked with the Guatemalan brethren. We have Guatemalan young adults that come and work with international young adults, and they work in this orphanage together. We’ve had agricultural projects in Guatemala as well, that was actually one of the first ones that we did, and we’ve done an agricultural project in Brazil. We’ve also done summer camps in Jamaica. We’re having a summer camp in Nigeria, actually, it’s…the volunteers are leaving today, to go work in Nigeria, and we’ve done leadership training in Chile.
[Victor] Well, there’s been quite a bit of very personal contact, not only that, but also, contact with other young people, in countries such as Guatemala. So what are you planning next to do, and where can some of our young people look forward to doing projects in the future?
[Lena] We are currently accepting applications for three projects taking place in December of this year. We have a project in Brazil. They will be going to help work at a summer camp, but it would also be to help train the local people on different sports and different activities, so that they won’t always need volunteers to run the summer camp. It’s so that…it’s A, to build the relationships between those that go and help, but also so that the locals who have not had camps in the past, can learn how to run the camp on their own. So that is taking place this December. We also have the project in Guatemala, once again, where we will go and work with the Eagle’s Nest Orphanage, and people will go work in the orphanage, but also do a service project where they may be carrying cement back and forth for a project, or they may be refinishing desks. I’m not sure what the project is this year, but there’s usually some kind of campus-improvement projects that they will do. And the third project that we have this December, it is the first time that we will be going to South Africa. They are having a family camp there, and we’re hoping to send volunteers to work at the camp again, to bring experience from other areas, to interact, and to create those bonds, but also, hopefully, bring that experience, people who’ve been to camps before, and can bring that experience, since it’s the first time they’ve done it in South Africa for a while.
[Victor] Well, Lena, this is so interesting to hear. You know, we talk about this because we work together on these projects, but it’s just wonderful to have you explain it, and explain it in greater detail as to what’s being done. Now we have worked also with LifeNets, which is a parachurch organization, to help our brethren, and also others outside of our fellowship, in different countries. Can you tell us a little about the relationship between LifeNets and Good Works?
[Lena] LifeNets and United Church of God are associated, but they’re two different organizations, and we work together. And it’s important for us to work together because we reach different demographics, and we can receive donations from different demographics to reach the same goal.
[Victor] You explained that so well, because we’ve been working together this way for a long, long time, and we’ve been able to benefit people in different ways. In fact, benefit entire communities with everything from water, to cattle, to education, to other aspects of helping. So, anyway, it’s been wonderful to have you here, you’re visiting here in the Cincinnati area, and have explained a little bit about Good Works, and where you’re going, and what you’re doing. So thank you very much for coming here. We wish you the very best in the work that you do, and look forward to working with you.
[Lena] Thanks for having me.
[Victor] Thanks for joining us on Inside United. Come back again soon for more.