Volunteer of the Week: Seeking to serve others is Daniel Renfroe’s calling

Published 12:05 pm Sunday, December 3, 2023

This week’s Volunteer of the Week is Daniel Renfroe.

A native of Vicksburg who received his BA in Business Management from Mississippi State University, Renfroe supports several local organizations, including helping to organize and participate in Service Over Self (SOS).

SOS is a Christian youth mission program focused on community outreach by providing home repairs to families or individuals with limited resources and/or disabilities.

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Renfroe is a current board member and past board president of Warren County Habitat for Humanity. He also serves on the board of Good Shepherd Community Center and is a member of the finance committee.

He spends his free time making improvements to his own home, enjoying the outdoors, traveling and visiting with friends and family.

How did you begin volunteering for Service Over Self?
I didn’t quite know what I was getting into at the time. My youth director, Tommy Miller, told us we would be participating in a week-long mission project helping work on some houses in town. Bob Moss, with Crawford Street United Methodist Church, started the program the year before with their youth group. Our youth group from Hawkins United Methodist Church was invited to join them in the second year, which is when my participation began.

How long have you been volunteering with Service Over Self?
I started volunteering with SOS the summer after my freshman year in high school when I was 14. This past summer was my 30th year to participate.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering for Service Over Self?
I don’t think I could pick a favorite. There are too many from which to choose. From the joys of seeing the homeowners’ reactions when we make repairs to the funny antics of the youth as we spend the week together, there are so many good times. Every year we sit around and tell stories from years past.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
No matter what your talent, you can be helpful. There are so many roles, beyond construction, required to make SOS successful. The youth are housed for the week at Crawford Street UMC, so we have an extremely talented group of kitchen volunteers who prepare meals. We have supply runners who deliver building materials to each site. People bring popsicles to the sites to help rejuvenate the youth in the June heat. We even have a volunteer who decorates the dining hall tables for our Thursday night meal where we invite the homeowners to join us and celebrate the week.

What are some of your tasks while volunteering?
My role has grown over the years. As a youth, I was only working on homes, but as the years progressed and I matured, my involvement did as well. I first became a site leader, responsible for supervising the youth and providing guidance with repairs. Then I started helping with the home selection process where we spent evenings visiting potential work sites and meeting with the homeowners to get to know them and understand their needs. I still labor on a work site every year, but now, along with Bob Moss and Lee Ann Whitley, I help with the coordination and organization aspect of the program wherever they need me.

What have you learned from volunteering at Service Over Self?
I think sometimes we underestimate the potential of our youth, but I have seen firsthand how capable they are when given the right direction and encouragement. It’s also fulfilling to see their confidence grow, which often leads to more commitment to their work. From the homeowner’s perspective, I’ve witnessed the relief that comes when we make a repair to their home. Sometimes a problem as simple as a basic home repair can feel overwhelming when grouped with the other issues a person may be facing. Solving that one problem may go a long way to improving their situation. I think people should keep that in mind before they decide to not help someone because they don’t believe a small act can make a big difference.

How can someone else who might be interested in volunteering with Service Over Self get involved?
Participation is open to youth (junior high through college) of all denominations and backgrounds. You don’t have to be a member of a youth group to participate either. We welcome individual volunteers. We are always in need of adults, especially those with some construction skills, to help guide the youth at the work sites. For those who cannot commit their time, SOS is funded by donations. We do not charge the homeowners for repairs and each year we work on 10 to 12 homes, which is an expensive endeavor to undertake. For more information, please contact Crawford Street UMC at 601-636-5612.

If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.