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Community - March 26, 2014

My Take: Volunteer, and put aside stress

By Kelly Brieger of Menlo Park, member, Valley Presbyterian Church

Valley Presbyterian Church, the cool "wedding church" nestled in the redwoods in Portola Valley, is a community of question-askers and good people who find large and small ways to do pretty amazing things.

My kids, now teenagers, were both baptized at VPC; our family joined the church in 1997 and it feels like home. The church holds a special place in my heart, not only because of its beautiful surroundings, but because of its community.

The staff — dedicated people who always have their arms open — and the loving community (the folks who show up to worship and for events and giving opportunities) is what makes up a church.

From March 30 through April 6, VPC will hold its annual Service Week, offering many opportunities to serve local communities, including with Habitat for Humanity and Stop Hunger Now.

Come help package meals, box groceries, plant vegetable gardens, give blood, donate household items, and much more, all while connecting with old friends and meeting new ones who share a desire to help others. The church website has a list of the dozens of opportunities to choose from.

When I show up to lend a hand, I experience something new. Of course, helping others is important. But here's what happens, at least for me: I have fun. I meet new people. I laugh a lot.

But the coolest thing that happens is that I feel as if the clock ceases to exist for a moment, and I leave this stressful world for a little while, getting off the grid and experiencing something new.

Last year, I participated in Stop Hunger Now — measuring, weighing, and bagging rice. Not only was it helpful, but it was fun. All of us laughed as we raced to fill as many bags as we could in a few hours.

Before committing to help at a Habitat for Humanity build (I am not handy), I thought, there is no way I can add much value. Actually, just showing up made it possible for me to be helpful, learn something new, enjoy the sunshine, meet new people, hang with old friends, and see, firsthand, what it really means to build a home for a family in need.

I encourage you to sign up for just one thing, anything, during VPC's annual Service Week. I guarantee you will become a very important member of a team, but you will also learn, laugh and love.

Check it out on or call Mary Jo Alderson at 851-9661, or send an email to


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