After retiring in 2011, Linda Rader began to look for volunteer opportunities in the community. Compelled to give back, she found the Orange County Rescue Mission (OCRM). OCRM’s dedication to serving the Least, the Last, and the Lost is especially important to Linda, as her sister has also experienced homelessness.
Linda volunteers several days every week at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope (VOH). She serves as the volunteer manager of the women’s and children’s clothing room and also uses her skills as a former principal to help supervise the after-school tutoring program.
As the volunteer clothing room manager, Linda works alongside a team of residents to stock and organize the donated clothing, diapers, shoes, hygiene items, and other necessities for young and old at the Rescue Mission. She says, “The people here want to gain skills, want to be productive, and value the help we give them.” Linda also notes that God has been a part of blessing others through her work—she has lost count of the number of times a particular item has arrived at the clothing room exactly when it is needed.
Linda is part of a team of retired teachers and principals that mentor and supervise Concordia University students who tutor the school-aged children at the Village of Hope. Before the children come in, she opens the room and ensures it is clean and the equipment is ready, prepares the snacks, and assigns tutors to students. When the kids get off the bus, she greets them and insures that they get a healthy snack while they work on their homework. Linda then oversees the tutoring by helping where it is needed and monitors the students’ behavior. Like our other tutoring supervisors, she plays a pivotal role in getting to know the children and communicates issues and areas for improvement to parents and case managers.
Volunteering at the Orange County Rescue Mission has become “something of a second home”, as Linda puts it. She has enjoyed getting to know everyone she has worked with. As a past teacher and elementary school principal, she especially bonds with the children. She knows that the impatient faces peering through the tutoring center window at 2:29 testify that the kids enjoy it just as much as she does.
Linda’s experience and relationships at the Orange County Rescue Mission have led her to encourage anyone who is thinking about volunteering to give it a try. Don’t underestimate the impact an hour or two here and there can have on those who need help. In her own words, “Do it! Sign up!”