Faces of the Army: Zetella Walker Gooch
Volunteer, The Salvation Army Jackson, MS Corps
Volunteering as a Core Value
My mother and grandparents first introduced me to volunteering through our church; it was an expectation and a part of who we were taught to be. We gave our time and gifts, whether we were serving as ushers or singing in the kids’ choir. I later watched my mom volunteer with different organizations to feed patients at the state mental hospital, provide for our community’s vulnerable population, and work at health fairs. That’s being a volunteer, and it’s being a servant.
I have three daughters, and they, too, have grown up watching and learning the importance of giving back. From our church activities to Girl Scouting, breast cancer awareness, and The Salvation Army, I’ve been blessed to pass down the importance of volunteering and demonstrate that it’s not about having your hands out for what you can get; it’s about giving back. And you can’t put a price on that.
We often hear the scripture citing how “we reap what we sow” in a negative connotation, but isn’t it a positive? Because if you give it now, it will come back to you, multiplied. There were times when I heard my kids say, “Mama, you’re giving away the store. You know we can’t afford this.” And there were times that I could not afford it, but I gave what I could. Sometimes it was money, but often I used the time, gifts, and experience the Lord gave me to help others.
And things just came back to me, and I know it was the Lord. Somehow, I was still able to pay the house note, I was still able to feed my kids, and I was still able to keep the lights on—nothing but God.
It all comes around to being a humble servant, and if there is a need that I can provide for, I’m going to give it. And I’m just so blessed that my children could pick up on that and do that as well.
The Salvation Army
I’m originally a New Yorker. I remember watching as the Twin Towers came down on 9/11. My mom was in New York City at the time, and I recall the feeling of terror when I couldn’t immediately reach her and the overwhelming sense of relief when she finally answered.
I remember watching the live news feeds and seeing The Salvation Army show up on the ground minutes after it happened and help so many people. Of course, there were Salvation Army officers, but also Salvation Army volunteers, and it made an impact on me.
With The Salvation Army, I’ve been blessed to volunteer in so many different capacities. I’ve done everything from serving on The Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary to helping with the homeless shelter, hosting fundraising events, and helping with Thanksgiving and Christmas day services. And my daughter and I have been volunteering for Angel Tree Adoption for several years, and it’s just so rewarding. So many of us don’t realize the sheer number of people who can’t provide for their families. And oh my goodness, we have a North Pole event where the children can pick whatever gifts they like! It’s a wonderful way to give back.
In 1 Peter 4:10, we’re called to use our gifts to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace.
I’ve had an abundant life of volunteering, and the Lord has blessed me tremendously.