Food for the Hungry (FH) relies on the services of many volunteers and advocates—and we want to honor them by telling their stories of inspiration!
Julia Nickel is one of FH’s great volunteers who serves in the Phoenix. Once a week she reports to the child sponsorship department to help stuff welcome packets and letters.
She says her favorite part of the job is seeing the pictures and drawings of sponsored children. “They really touch my heart,” she shares.
Julia, 54, says she knew God was calling her to serve in some way, and that she had been praying about it. One day, while in class at Phoenix Seminary, Julia’s professor showed a video of a musician who was out in the field working with FH. The video gave her inspiration to act on her prayers, so Julia signed up to volunteer with FH.
Since joining FH as a volunteer, Julia says she has learned a lot about how FH reaches to people in “a real and practical way.” She says she’s most impressed with the staff she gets to work with.
“I love coming to volunteer, not only because I want to serve, but also because being with these young women inspires me to want to do more for God,” she explains. “And I know its cliché, but they make me want to be a better person.”
Another very special person who deeply inspires Julia is her 18-year-old daughter, Hailey. A single mother, Julia considers Hailey her best gift. Hailey was born with major complications, and she almost died twice, says Julia. Hailey is deaf with a few special needs.
“She has had to walk through so much in her young life,” Julia adds. “She has taught me patience and how to love.”
Julia grew up in Phoenix, but lived in Oregon for 13 years. When her husband passed away, she and Hailey moved back to Arizona. She attends Phoenix Seminary, and her goal is to get her master of divinity (M.Div) degree by the time she turns 60.
Julia is also starting a deaf youth group ministry. “The deaf are one of the most unreached cultural/language groups in the world,” she says. “It breaks my heart, and I hope God can use me in some small way to reach even one deaf teenager.”
After she graduates from the seminary, Julia hopes to work as a crisis chaplain. This inspiration was borne out of many personal crisis situations Julia had experienced, including the recent deaths of loved ones. “I asked God, ‘Why?’ What was I supposed to do with everything I’d been through? Becoming a crisis chaplain is the answer I got.”
A favorite verse, “All things work together for good to those who love God …,” gives Julia strength. “I know God will redeem my past, my life, for His good purpose. He took a bruised and broken woman and brought her back to life! It is all for His glory.”
Rez Gopez-Sindac is an Austin-based writer and editor covering faith, church management and global development.