Collage of the #ForColumbia Hashtag on T-Shirts

Looking Back to Where We Started

ForColumbia 2015 Logo

ForColumbia 2015 Logo

Welcome to the 2024 ForColumbia season!

Thanks so much for reading, praying, spreading the word, and signing up to participate as a ForColumbia volunteer on April 27, 2024.

2024 is our 10th year of serving Columbia, side by side. Where has all the time gone?! As we look back to when it all began in 2015, we are excited to trace God’s faithfulness, provision, and miraculous work through His people — including you!

We’d like to introduce you to Carly Brown. Carly was a 2015 volunteer who takes us back to “what it was like in the beginning.” Be sure to follow along with this year’s updates and stories on our Facebook and Instagram channels.

Carly Brown: ForColumbia 2015 Volunteer

Carly Brown

What prompted you to sign up as a volunteer for ForColumbia in 2015?

I had been leading a monthly Habitat for Humanity workday for my church since 2014, so I was asked to be part of the team that was putting together ForColumbia. I was excited for another opportunity to serve the Columbia community.

Tell us what the process was like back then.

We didn’t have a database, so there was a lot of paper and pencil to divvy up volunteers and worksites. Each of the partner churches had paper signup forms they used to sign up members of their congregation. And then we put all the info in spreadsheets to figure out what T-shirts to order, what sites people would work at, how many lunches to deliver to the sites, and more! There were so many documents and spreadsheets.

2017 Volunteers at Wilkes Blvd. United Methodist

2017 Volunteers at Wilkes Blvd. United Methodist

One thing I remember very vividly was deciding on the T-shirt design. Back in 2015, the concept of hashtags was just beginning to catch on. One of the partnering pastors wanted to put #ForColumbia on the shirt in really big type. We told him he was crazy, but we did it. And the hashtag has stayed on the shirts over the years! It’s been fun to see other people’s photos after the event each year by searching the hashtag.

What was the tone/energy of the event?

When I was out and about on the day of service, everyone was so joyful, so willing to help, and eager to get their hands dirty. There was a palpable desire to make a difference in our community.

Where did you volunteer? What was your project?

Aside from helping with admin leading up to the event and delivering lunches to sites on the day of, I spent time helping at the Habitat for Humanity site. Even though I lead a monthly workday, it was a different feeling to work that day knowing that other projects were going on around the city at the same time.

Granny's House in Columbia, Mo.

Granny’s House in Columbia, Mo.

Any impactful memories from those first few years?

I’ve volunteered in numerous capacities over the years for many organizations that serve our city. But ForColumbia has been the only one where I know I am serving alongside other believers in the name of Jesus. I have enjoyed meeting people from different churches over the years. And passing the ForColumbia admin on to the next crew of people who continue to improve and grow the effort has been really neat to watch.

Why did you take a break from serving?

Aside from my job taking up more time, I took a break. I was a little burnt out from serving in many different roles across the community. I had learned the importance of taking a break to avoid burnout and I trusted those leading and serving with ForColumbia. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t genuinely serve others.

What prompted you to start volunteering again?

It had been a while since I did ForColumbia and a friend invited me to be a part of it again. Now as a member of a different church, it’s been fun to watch this congregation get involved in the last few years.

Serving at Blind Boone Community Center

Serving at Blind Boone Community Center

What is ForColumbia like now…any noticeable differences from when you started?

Seeing how much it has grown and the ways it expands beyond a single day is really cool! There have been so many partner churches over the years. And I have watched ForColumbia serve so many non-profits and individuals.

The registration process is obviously much different than in 2015. Back then you just filled out a paper form at your home church. Now you can sign up online from anywhere! And the communication with volunteers and leaders has greatly improved as well. Also, the leaders are much more knowledgeable now as many of them come back year after year. All of us were kind of winging it that first year!

If you could encourage someone to volunteer, what would your message be to them?

Serving our city through ForColumbia is such a wonderful day of fellowship and service at the same time! Signing up to serve can feel like a big commitment or scary if you don’t know anyone else, but getting to know others from your church and fellow Christians brings our hearts closer to Jesus and closer to our community. Serving with ForColumbia is a tangible way to make a positive difference in our town.

If you’re interested in getting involved with ForColumbia 2024, talk to your church to see if they are partnering with us, and/or send us a message at [email protected]. See you on April 27th!

Signing up to serve can feel like a big commitment or scary if you don’t know anyone else, but getting to know others from your church and fellow Christians brings our hearts closer to Jesus and closer to our community.