Why I Volunteer

Erika Nossokoff, Fort Collins, Colorado

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What were your experiences volunteering as a child?

I grew up volunteering with my church youth group and was inspired by my mom, who did such great work in our community that she won an award from a local television station.

How do you currently volunteer?

I focus on projects through my church – serving on teams, leading mission trips, assisting in worship services and fundraising for a Nigerian HIV/AIDS hospital and school. Through my job at Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity, I inspire and mobilize our congregation and others to volunteer and donate locally and globally. I also lead two Thrivent Builds Worldwide trips each year.

What enables you to volunteer like you do?

I've learned to intentionally find roles that match how God designed me (spiritual gifts of leadership, faith and compassion), although God has also helped me grow through roles that didn't always fit!

Why is volunteering a priority in your life, and how do you make time for it?

I inherited the volunteer gene from my 79-year-old mother, who still actively volunteers by driving elderly people to their destinations. My adult kids have the gene, too, and use their professional skills as a physician's assistant and civil engineer to volunteer locally and globally. For me, it's not a matter of making time to volunteer, but weaving volunteerism through all parts of my life.

Tell us about a time you received more than you gave?

I was in the Dominican Republic in June 2017, building a family's Habitat home through Thrivent Builds Worldwide. Our translator shared that the homeowner and I were the same age. I felt an instant bond with her. She came and put her arms around my shoulders, and we stayed that way for a few minutes. Even though we spoke different languages, we were connected by our shared humanity and the power of touch. What a gift to be part of God answering her prayers for a home where she can host her children and grandchildren!

Tell us about a memorable moment as a volunteer.

Hands down, it was leading my church to raise funds to send a Nigerian boy named Christian to India for lifesaving heart surgery. Seeing the scar on his chest afterwards – proof of a successful surgery – gave me deep satisfaction that God used me to help accomplish his will.

Did you ever have an epiphany that changed your mindset about giving?

My first trip to Nigeria changed my checkbook, my calendar and my career. I have a broader worldview. I now measure money in terms of lives saved: $150 is what it costs to buy one AIDS patient's lifesaving medications per year. If I want to make a $600 purchase, I try to remember that's equivalent to four lives.

What tangible benefits have you experienced as a result of giving?

I've met amazing people and have friends around the world I stay in touch with. Positive connections and relationships make life better.

Ready to make volunteering part of your life?

Each year, Nossokoff leads Thrivent Action Teams, directs Choice Dollars® and leads Thrivent Builds Worldwide trips. Sound like something you'd like to try? Learn more about our programs.