“Volunteering as a family is two good things put together,” says 13-year-old Emi Williams. “First, I get to volunteer to help others, and
second I get to do it with my family.”
Emi, her 16-year-old brother Reece, and her mom and dad – Alicia and Doug Williams – have volunteered for the past 3 years to supervise the preschool class during all the Easter morning services at BelPres so that other families can attend worship.
The family reminisces about some of their favorite memories with the 3, 4 and 5 year-olds. They speak fondly of the time a tiny 3-year-old boy jumped up during the preschool worship time and announced: “God loves us so much; He loves us forever.”
“Seeing a little child give his testimony was the best Easter gift of all,” says Alicia. “Our time on Easter as a family with the preschoolers is our
own little Easter miracle to see small children so excited about Jesus.”
“I love seeing Reece and Emi serve,” says their father Doug. “I can see their cup being filled through service. Each of us does several things at BelPres individually,” he explains, “so that is why our family time together with the preschoolers is so special. It is the ultimate quality family time.”
“I think what sets the Williams family apart is that serving together is their family culture. They don’t see giving their time as a burden but rather as a joy and gift. When they teach children, they see one another through God’s eyes of love and hope,” says Lisa Phelps, director of early childhood education at BelPres.
Emi and Reece are no strangers to BelPres preschoolers. They frequently volunteer on Sundays at 9:45 a.m. with the early childhood program, assisting with the children’s worship of message, prayer and singing. During the message, there is a Bible story that the children hear, and then the assistants – like Reece and Emi – dress up and act it out.
“I enjoy being with kids,” says Emi. “I see them learning and love knowing what we are saying and doing with them is having an impact.” Reece is quick to add: “The kids have so much energy. It is a good experience to be with them – they brighten my day.”
Their mother explains that the small children really relate to the teenagers. “The younger ones look up to the older ones for role models,”
Alicia and Doug have volunteered in a wide range of activities, becoming members in 2000. They began co-teaching elementary Sunday
school classes when their children were young and have continued their involvement in the middle and high school groups over the years. As a high school counselor at Interlake High School in Bellevue, Alicia is able to use her expertise working with the middle and high school age youth. She has also served on Session as an elder. As a regional sales manager for varsity achievement brand Herff Jones, Doug enjoys working with kids too.
“I like to build relationships,” explains Alicia. “It is rewarding to see my own kids and the other kids grow in their faith and walk with the Lord.”
Emi and Alicia helped with Vacation Bible Adventure in July. Emi’s responsibility was preschool recreation, while Alicia’s was elementary recreation. Emi is also active in the middle school youth group and has attended a series of BelPres youth camps over the years. She is in the 8th grade at Chinook Middle School in Bellevue and enjoys playing premier soccer and select softball.
Reece is a junior at Bellevue High School. He attended High School Extreme Week this summer as he has in the past, and went to Young Life
camp in Malibu for the first time. He likes playing the guitar for Wednesday night’s high school youth service and enjoyed attending the Men’s Retreat with his dad this last spring in Maple Valley. Outside of church, he plays lacrosse and runs cross country.
“I enjoy doing something that is tangible,” he says. “You get to see how others are benefitting when you give your time.” His advice to other teens? “Don’t shy away from doing something with your family. It is rewarding. It is better than doing it by yourself.”