Serving and volunteering becomes a focus for entire family
By Holly Kline
Julie and Mitch Davis and their three kids are a typical Fishers family who live with the usual round of work commitments, sports and school activities. Along the way, serving and volunteering has become a focus for the whole family.
Mitch helped start local ministry Mission Uprising, and through that organization Julie and Mitch lead annual Father/Son and Father/Daughter camps at SpringHill camp in Seymour, Ind. The camps are completely volunteer-run and provide a weekend camping adventure for dads and their kids.
The Davis family is also involved with building homes through the Homes of Hope organization. Mitch’s employer, CWAM, organizes build trips out of Indianapolis and Mitch and Julie, their kids, their friends and others have recently helped build homes in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
“People have given to us and this is an opportunity to pay it forward,” said Julie. “We like the fact that our volunteering involves families.”
Both Julie and Mitch are quick to point out that they don’t want their volunteering efforts to be about them.
Mitch explained, “The coolest thing about all of this is that it is less about us and more about seeing someone new who is volunteering for the first time or attending the camps and you see, for example, fathers and daughters who didn’t connect and you see them make a transformation. Or, on the builds, everyone wants to serve and it’s cool to see the transformations of the people who are serving.”
Building the Homes
“People who have never swung a hammer can build a house,” Mitch said.
Homes of Hope pours the concrete slab at the location using local labor and buys the rest of the building materials from local lumberyards. Homes of Hope also brings in a builder to make sure the houses are being built correctly and they provide an interpreter.
“It’s the great equalizer,” Mitch stated. “On a build, you can have an NFL player, the CEO of a company, a missionary, a stay-at-home parent, a kid and the family you’re building for, and they’re all wearing the same T-shirts, all getting sweaty and they’re all exactly the same.”
Dale Cardozo and his daughter Lauren volunteered on a build with Julie and Mitch. “The memory of the Homes of Hope build in Mexico that stands out,” Cardozo said, “is when our team completed the home and had the privilege of handing over the keys to the Mexican family who was previously living in a dilapidated, dirt-floor shack. The joy of giving was a heart-warming moment that my daughter and I will never forget.”
“The volunteer experiences build relationships,” Julie added. “It builds relationships with our family, with the volunteers who are serving with us and with the family we are building for.
“I think it draws you closer when you experience a home build,” she continued. “It’s a bonding experience.”
Father/Daughter and Father/Son Camps
A family bonding experience is part of what drives Julie and Mitch to lead the yearly Father/Daughter and Father/Son camps.
“We wanted to have an opportunity for the fathers and the kids to intentionally engage, to get to know each other and have fun away from the busyness of the world,” Mitch said.
The camps have been in existence for about nine years; the Father/Daughter weekend is in the fall and the Father/Son takes place in the spring.
“The camp experience creates something to go back to,” Mitch said. “It creates memories and chances to find out what my son or daughter would like to do more and what they would like to do with me.”
“It’s a chance for sons to see that dads are fun,” Mitch continued. “For the daughters we do a dance and lots of chances to compete together. We create memory points and it’s why people keep coming back.”
Julie agrees. “It’s all about shared experiences for the sons and daughters,” she said.
Julie and Mitch will continue to volunteer as a family with their kids, Nathan, 14, Claire, 12 and Nicholas, 9, and they are hopeful that their story may inspire others to give their time in any way they can, big or small.
“It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that people need us everywhere,” Mitch said. “You can serve globally or two blocks from your house. There are people who need us every day.”
“You never know what one invitation, what one action will lead someone to go and do,” Julie said.