I’ve volunteered off and on at Faith Community Center for about a year now, and during that time I’ve given a number of tours to people interested in joining. The most common question that I get when I give a tour is “Why do you have a community center?” or something similar. And it’s a valid question: why does Faith Church have a community center? And what makes the Community Center different from a health club or gym?
Depending on who you ask, you might get a different answer to that question. But for me, it’s all about that first word: COMMUNITY. The Community Center is about bringing people together-for fitness, for fun, yes-but more for community.
My favorite part about helping out at the Communty Center is getting to know some of the regulars. I love getting to the point of knowing that Arthur always wants a big towel when he checks in or that Grace is going to want to buy a cup of coffee when she’s done in the pool. I love seeing some of our great senior members talking to the preschoolers as they walk by (even though the preschoolers aren’t supposed to talk in the hallway), and then shaking their heads as they think about the amount of energy it takes for those teachers to keep up with their class. I love seeing the people who are never in a hurry to leave after their workout-always looking for an excuse to sit down and chat with someone else who just finished a workout, or with one of the students who walked across the parking lot to do some homework. I love seeing those folks who workout for an hour and then move right behind the front desk to volunteer for the rest of the afternoon. I love seeing the Leffews spend their entire day at the Community Center: getting things ready for the soccer season, working out for a bit, popping pop corn for the basketball players and sitting down to catch up with a friend they haven’t seen in a while.
These are things that you don’t see at a fitness center. You don’t see folks carve out an entire morning and devote it to working out knowing they are going to end up sticking around to talk to someone. You see, Faith Community Center isn’t a place where you put your head down so you can get in and out without having to talk to anyone. It’s a place where you plan your trip so you are sure to run into friends because more than breaking a sweat, what you really need is to connect.