WARSAW — Warsaw resident Israel Garza has been volunteering at Fellowship Missions, Warsaw, since 2011. According to Garza, a friend of his was a volunteer there and had posted on Facebook that they needed more volunteers. Garza said, “I saw the post and I had extra time on my hands, so I joined her one evening to check it out. I started volunteering there shortly after that.”
Fellowship Missions was founded by Eric and Tammy Lane in April 2010 as a way to meet the needs of the homeless in Kosciusko County. After serving on staff at Warsaw Community Church and working with the homeless ministry in the community, Eric Lane felt compelled to commit himself to serving in a greater capacity.
It began as a men’s shelter but soon expanded to separate shelters for men and women. Located at 1520 E. Winona Avenue, Warsaw, the current shelter opened in September 2014 and contains separate living areas for men and women as well as a large gathering area for shared meals and events. The shelter can house up to 46 residents, including men, women and children.
Garza was unanimously nominated by staff at Fellowship Missions as Volunteer of the Month in May for being an outstanding volunteer.
The second of eight siblings, Garza reports that he and his older sister both had a lot of responsibility helping out with the younger siblings. Garza’s father was disabled due to a back injury so Garza learned to be responsible and help out at a very young age.
Garza said he likes sharing stories with the residents at Fellowship Missions and making them smile. He states he has always been better “one on one” with people but is learning to feel more comfortable with larger groups of people since his time volunteering there. Garza credits his volunteer work at Fellowship Missions with helping him to be more aware of the blessings in his life.
“If I did not believe Fellowship Missions was a good place to be and that their hearts were in the right place, I wouldn’t be here. Eric (Lane) has done an amazing job here,” Garza stated, adding that they can always use more volunteers.
Garza said he finds it easy to relate to the residents at Fellowship Missions, as he realizes he could have ended up homeless himself at some point during his life, pointing out that he has been through lay-offs, plant closings, divorce and a house fire.
Regardless of what is going on in his personal life, Garza maintains a positive attitude and hopes this will have an impact on the residents at Fellowship Missions.
“When others can see your true faith, that is golden to me because that is something they won’t forget. I have always had my faith even when I had nothing else and I have always been taken care of.”