‘God honors a cheerful giver:’ Family Pathways moms give back to Buckner, community

Moms are some of the busiest people in the world. They often juggle childrearing, careers, marriages and sometimes, schoolwork. It doesn’t seem like most moms would be able to prioritize volunteer work in their busy schedules.

For Shanna Bush and Claudia Hicks, Dallas moms in the Buckner Family Pathways program, volunteering is part of a lifestyle.

Hicks and Bush spent time this spring working at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid, bagging food items for distribution and assisting people in the clothing room. They loved working with Johnny Flowers and the other Buckner staff, and seeing the happiness of families whose physical needs were met.

“At the warehouse, most of the clothes are used, but you’ll see the kids smiling like they’re in a department store,” Bush said.

Both Bush and Hicks agreed volunteering allows them to give back after receiving more than they dared to imagine from Buckner. Family Pathways is a residential program that provides services which help single mothers pursue their education or vocational training in order to become self-sufficient. Most of the women in the program have suffered abuse, addition or homelessness.

As program manager of Family Pathways in Dallas, Cynthia Rentie is a source of mentorship and encouragement to Hicks, Bush and the rest of the mothers in the program.

“God honors a cheerful giver,” Rentie said. “They get to see it’s not just them who is having a hard time.”

Hicks and her three children, Kelton, Destiny and Serenity, found Family Pathways by word of mouth during a particularly dark place in their lives. Hicks couldn’t find a steady job and was rejected numerous times after applying for several positions. She was told her Social Security number was missing, and she became desperate, ashamed and afraid for her children.

“It’s amazing, the blessing that we’ve gotten,” said Hicks with tears in her eyes. “I did not want to [volunteer] at first. I was so full of myself when I first started. We get so full of ourselves. And these people aren’t ashamed - they just need help.”

For Bush, fostering a desire to serve in her own children became a way to teach them to be good stewards of their belongings.

“I want my kids to see that they are really privileged,” Bush explained. “There are people who don’t have what they have. We could be in the exact same situation.”

Bush and Hicks, both single mothers, students and full-time employees, have far exceeded the minimum requirement of attained service hours. Even with their packed schedules, the women still found time to serve with joyful hearts.

“To me, it’s part of spiritual development,” Rentie said. “It’s the service of redemption, because they are receiving so much here.”

Hicks summed up her feelings of gratitude for Buckner Family Pathways and for the volunteering she’s done this year.

“I want to give back and be able to help people,” Hicks said. “Because God blessed me, I can give back.”

Story by Elizabeth Starr
Photography by Katie Moore

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