EmVP: Volunteers help clear a path to independent living

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COLUMBIA - When snow falls in mid-Missouri, the sounds of shovels scraping across the driveway mean freedom to Larry Shinn.

Shinn became disabled after a car accident and struggles with mobility. But thanks to Services for Independent Living, he doesn’t have to worry about being trapped at home after a snow storm.

“I wanted to go get groceries today and I was worried about getting out,” Shinn said. “They're great to come by. It means the world.”

Nashville Baptist Church Pastor Jim Bender and his son, Micah, have volunteered to shovel snow with the nonprofit for the last few years and say they are grateful for the opportunity to help.

“Well, the second commandment is love your neighbor so, there you go,” Bender said. “This is what Jesus calls us to do.”

Bender said this volunteer opportunity means something more than just lending a helping hand to neighbors. He said his sons have autism and his family received help themselves from Services for Independent Living.

“So, this is our opportunity to give back,” Bender said. “It's something my son and I can do together, it gives us a little exercise, and it helps people out at the same time.”

The organization also helped Shinn get a wheelchair ramp for his front porch.

“I’d encourage anybody to jump in and help. It's doesn't take a whole lot of time and it really can make a difference,” Bender said.

Services for Independent Living offers several individual or group volunteer opportunities on a flexible schedule, according to its website.

Volunteers are needed to help do grocery shopping, assist with cooking classes, yard work and even just to make a friendly visit or take a trip to the movie theater.

“Some have disabilities, others are elderly,” Bender said, “This is just a great way to help out.”

Shinn said it means the world to him that people like Bender volunteer and every time he tells them, “God Bless.”

For more information on how to volunteer or sign up to receive services from Services for Independent Living, go to its website.