At CFUM, we recently celebrated the retirement of a dedicated volunteer after nearly 20 years of service. It’s incalculable how many lives Chuck Howieson touched over his years, cooking meals, helping students with homework, serving breakfast, or spending all day in the CFUM kitchen to prepare the Thanksgiving Eve meal. Year after year, meal after meal, when there was a need, Chuck and his wife Marilyn were there.
The interim pastor of his church (and former CFUM executive director), Carmen Lampe Zeitler who started CFUM’s Supper Club program over 20 years ago, first invited him to get involved in CFUM’s signature program, Breakfast Club. But it was his wife, Marilyn who admittedly not a morning person, passed the Breakfast Club baton to her husband.
“When I retired from IBM, she gave me the breakfast program job,” Chuck said laughing. “We met some of the most wonderful people through that volunteering along the way. These were frequent and faithful volunteers.”
Chuck who now lives in Johnston, recalled the upgrade to the dining room floor of CFUM and how the current blue tile took shape.
“Gene Leonard spent days chipping out the old, worn red tile that was there. Marilyn was recruited to help with the tile chipping project and I’ll never forget how she came home that night to tell me she had met the nicest man working on that floor. That was Gene. He’s passed on now, but that was some project.”
The people and the faces of CFUM’s past have made our organization what it is today. We’re built on the strength of our volunteers who pause their daily lives to step into our programs and through Trinity’s/CFUM’s red doors to impact others.
Making sure kids had a healthy meal to start their day was just one of Chuck’s roles. Chuck is humble, he’s patient and was a part of transforming futures. He’s shared how he’ll be out and about in Des Moines and run into some of the CFUM kids for whom he used to help with homework, tease and create funny nicknames.
“When I see some of them and how well they’ve done I think back to the time I spent with those kids and how much I really enjoyed it,” Chuck recalls. “I have a lot of respect for the CFUM kids. I always told them, ‘if you can learn to read, you can learn to do anything. If you need to figure something out, it’s all in a book somewhere.’”
That was good advice he made sure CFUM kids realized. When it came time for the kids to read, Chuck could see on a child’s face whether he or she was confident in their reading ability. His goal was to search those kids out, spend time with them and help them get excited about reading.
“When I see those kids, all grown now…we’ll I’m so proud to have known them and see the progress they have made,” said Chuck with a pause. “Maybe I had a little influence on them, I don’t know.”
You most certainly did Chuck, and we are so grateful!
Value in Volunteering
Toying with the idea of volunteering at CFUM? What Chuck will tell you is be prepared to be transformed yourself.
CFUM brings a broad spectrum of people through its doors and it’s what Chuck said he appreciated the most about his volunteering, “You learn to respect all of that; beliefs, cultures, and nationalities. Looking around the room, those kids all get along, they are polite and respect each other because that’s what is taught there. As adults, we can learn from those kids.”
There are so many exciting things about to happen at CFUM and we would love to have more volunteers to support those efforts as we journey to the next stage!
Learn more about Volunteer Opportunities at CFUM.