~written by Jack Clark
In the spirit of thanksgiving, we celebrate the gifts of time and talent that our members give to the church. We are truly blessed by those who contribute to our mission and ministry by serving on committees, action teams, with our children and youth, singing in our choir, writing cards, baking cookies, doing the work of justice and advocacy, and holding this community in weekly prayer. For each of you who participate in this way, we are grateful for your leadership. Thank you! Please enjoy this occasional series celebrating some extraordinary volunteers.
Vince Santo Pietro recently celebrated his twenty-fifth year of volunteering at UCUCC. He started as a volunteer with the church’s youth group, working with the group’s weekly program and mission trips before transitioning to the Facilities & Equipment Committee, where he continues to volunteer to this day. Volunteering on F&E, Vince works to maintain the building and ensure that everything from the microphones to the online broadcast of the service is operational. He admits, “I’m more of a nuts and bolts person.”
When the pandemic prevented in-person church services, Vince’s nuts and bolts acumen was instrumental in providing a fully online experience to community members. With uncertainty looming over when the community would be reunited in person, Vince and the rest Facilities and Equipment Committee dedicated themselves to bringing everyone together. Vince described how impactful it was to see people show their appreciation through comments and messages during their church’s first fully virtual service.
“The warmth and appreciation of those people even virtually being able to sit in the sanctuary is something very special.”
Broadcasting the services online also provided a unique opportunity to extend the service to people previously unable to attend. Suddenly, anyone with an internet connection could participate. This was especially important as the church held memorials for the community members who had passed away during the pandemic.
“People had died during the pandemic, not necessarily because of Covid, but just because of life and we weren’t able to have memorials,” Vince reflects. “But the other thing that I hadn’t really thought about is that people and relatives from other parts of the country and friends could tune in and watch it.”
Vince recalled one moment that was specifically emotional. It was the first fully online service and also the memorial of a community member and friend. “It was a really beloved person, somebody who I personally was good friends with and we had no idea what we were doing. And we spent an entire afternoon there reading articles online, looking at YouTube how-to’s and all that stuff… And we managed to do it, we managed to broadcast that.”
The online format also allowed the broadcast to be recorded, so that moment in time could be preserved for the family. “The wife of the person, I was able to hand her the entire memorial on a thumb drive, which we had never ever been able to do before. That was gratifying to the point of just really making me emotional.”
For Vince, volunteering is merely an extension of being a part of the community. Working on the Facilities & Equipment Committee, Vince is able to give back to the community, while also doing something that he loves. He is someone who is always driven to learn and volunteering has given him an opportunity to continue learning around a grateful and appreciative community.
“For me it’s learning a new thing, which is really, really nice, and what really excites me is when it works.”
Jack Clark is a freelance journalist based in the Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him here.