Volunteer Stories

Chris Schumacher

Chris and his wife, Tara, became involved with the fight against human trafficking about nine years ago. They volunteer nationally and internationally for several different organizations. We are so grateful that Chris has made time to help our girls at Gracehaven. Chris has helped tutor our girls for the past several months which has helped them gain momentum in their school studies. He has also offered to help Gracehaven pay for monthly field trips for our girls. We could not be more grateful for all the time and donations that Chris and Tara have given to Gracehaven.

 

Robbin Bridger

How did you first learn about child sex-trafficking?
I became aware of sex trafficking in the 1980's when I was in a counseling practice for victims of sexual abuse.  However, I was not aware of its prevalence.  That became apparent to me through our church in early 2008, when a heard a survivor speak about her experience.
 
Why were you burdened to become a volunteer mentor?
I have not been in the workforce since 2002.  I then spent the next 7 years caring for my ailing mother.  Once she passed away, my husband and I decided I would not return to work but I knew I needed to spend time volunteering.   At first I was drawn to the elderly, because of my mom, and served that population for 5 years through our church.  More recently, I have been led to get involved with youth because that is who I worked with in my career years ago.  Mentoring is all about the relationship, pouring ourselves into the person, and walking alongside of them.  While I did that in my career life, I believe that is who God molded me to be for His Kingdom.  
 
How has this experience been for you?
My experience so far has been extremely rewarding and encouraging.  It is an honor to serve others, especially in the name of Jesus.  Even the smallest of steps forward are a delight!  But that doesn't preclude discouragement.  The initial building of the relationship can be bumpy, but once that hurdle is crossed, and there is more consistency, it is exciting to see growth! 
 
What have you learned about yourself as a result of the mentoring?
I had no idea that spending time, listening, guiding, tutoring youth would be so meaningful to me.  Of course it came easy to love and care for our own children and their friends, but I didn't know I could care as much for other youth/young adults as well until I began to mentor.  Also, while most of my personal life is organized, peaceful, and purposeful, I learned that I am also able to exist in chaos and constant change because that is what is necessary to connect and pour life and love into some kids.  
 
What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a mentor?
Pray and discern where God is truly leading/nudging you.  Working with these youth is a commitment, and it is important for a mentor to not become another adult in the youth's life that walks away from him/her.  At the same time, if you have the desire, don't hesitate.  Trust God to guide you, fill you and use you.  He will, and some youth will be rewarded as a result.  Even with the experience I have, I constantly rely on Him for guidance...not my previous textbook knowledge.  A youth is waiting for a helping hand....be that person who makes a difference!