Sunday, November 23, 2014

Starting a Blessing Team Card Ministry

What is the Blessing Team and who are receives cards from you?
The Blessing Team is a card and phone call ministry program designed to encourage the elderly, shut-ins, and missionaries associated with our congregation. We have expanded a bit to include widows (no matter of age), military,  and those in prison with association to our church.

Approx. how many cards do you send out per year?
We send a minimum of 372 cards out per year.  We send out one thinking of you card per day.  Most people get 2 cards/month.  Then we also send Birthday, Anniversary, Sympathy, and Get Well cards.  We usually send 5-6 cards to each recipient for each of these occasions.  

Concerning the number we send per month, for a group just getting started, you may only have 5-10 recipients.  This means you may only send 10-20 cards/month.  I have a list of 21 recipients just for my elderly/shut-in/widow list.  This means we have a higher of volume of cards per month and need more volunteers to keep it running smoothly.

How do you choose people to help with the ministry? Do you have trouble getting enough people to help?
We took time during a Sunday evening service and presented the Blessing Team to the congregation.  After the presentation, each person was given a form they could fill out if they wished to participate.  This form included a place for Name and phone number of the volunteer and if they wished to send cards, make phone calls, or both.  It isn't hard to mail a card so we usually have a lot more volunteers for this part of the program.  Making a phone call requires a bit more time and for some, it's a bit more uncomfortable.  This part of the program is a bit more challenging to have enough volunteers. 

How do you keep things organized?
It can be time consuming to initially get started as you begin to collect all the information--addresses, birthday, and anniversary.  Once I received the needed information, I started a Word document to keep the information.  I set it up in Landscape format with 3 columns. After it was complete, I printed it off to keep in a folder for easier access and to have right in front of me as I prepare the monthly calendar. 
As for keeping the volunteer information together and organized, I made an Excel spreadsheet with 4 columns--Volunteer. Phone number, Card, and Phone.  In the row with the volunteers name, I simply put an "x" under Card or Phone or both so I know what they volunteered for. 
I have a couple of the Elderly ladies who volunteered to participate.  Since they are also recipients, I make up a completely different sheet for them so they don't see who is supposed to send them a card or give them a call.  I make a simple note in Word format (or equivalent program) and include the persons name and address for them to send the card too.  I provide phone numbers if they wish to make a phone call also. 

I try to make sure that each recipient receives cards from different people.  In other words, I try to make sure the same volunteer does not send a card to the same person for a month.  I also make sure that a different volunteer calls the recipient.  That way they are hearing form more than one person throughout the month.  I have a large enough group of volunteers that I can do that.  

Because we send 2 cards/month to most of our recipients, I also go through the cards and work to make sure the recipient doesn't receive the same card more than once.  

Organizing Calendars
Some thoughts on how I organize my calendars each month--For example, in January, I will start listing the recipients from the top and go down through the list.  To mix it up a bit, in Feb. I might start in the middle of the list and work my way through.  Then in March, I might start and the bottom and work my way up.  This helps mix up when the recipient receives the cards during the month.  I do similar things with my volunteer list.  I go by what I feel like doing that month.  When just getting started, it might be easiest to do the same thing several months until you're more comfortable with what you are doing. 
If you have a large group of volunteers compared to the number of recipients, you can always take half of the volunteers and use them to send thinking of you cards and use the rest to send birthday and anniversary cards.

How do you share information with the members of the ministry?
I use a calendar on the computer, and fill it out.  I put the Recipients name at the top of the daily square.  Underneath that I put a picture of a phone or a capital P for phone volunteer with the volunteers name beside it.  Below that, I put a picture of a card or a capital C with the volunteers name beside it.  This lets the volunteer know what they need to do for that recipient.  After copying the calendars, I write the volunteers name at the top, then go through and highlight their name throughout the calendar.  I get cards together, stamp the envelope, and put them inside the calendar. I then pass the calendars with cards out at church to each volunteer.
     The recipients address' are copied onto the back of each calendar every month.  If the recipient is new or not from our church, I information in small print beside the name letting the volunteers know who the recipient is and how they're connected to our church.
     I have also put together a calendar for either a "Missionary or Military in focus".  We as the volunteers to please send a card to the family we chose for that month.  This card and stamp is provided by the volunteer.  If the Missionary or Military chosen is over-seas, I try to provide the postage information for that location. 

**General info :)
The volunteer puts their own personal note inside the card and should sign his/her own name.  If they wish to state what church they are from, they can.   The phone call does not need to be a long phone call.  Just a call to let them know you are thinking of them and to provide them a listening ear.  You don't have to talk much, just listen--However, they will need some interaction :)

Who funds the ministry? Do you provide the cards and stamps?
The church provides the cards and stamps for the volunteers.  As the director of the program, I choose the cards I wish to have sent, pick up the stamps from the post office, and pre-stamp the envelopes prior to handing them out to the volunteers. 

Have you received any positive feedback from people who have received letters or cards through the ministry?
I have had several people comment on how encouraging it has been receiving the cards and phone calls.  Just a note to let them know someone is thinking and praying for them is such an encouragement. 

What are some ideas for how this ministry could be expanded?
When the Blessing Team was originally started, they included visitation.  This is a great way to expand the program, especially for those in nursing homes or who are unable to get out of their homes much.  It's a bright spot in their day to have someone drop by. 

~Sherry Schuler~
Independent Reliv Distributor
Key Director

About Sherry:
I spent 6 years of my childhood sharing in my parents ministry as missionaries where I watched my parents love and serve and I developed a love for helping and encouraging others.  I've been married to an incredible man, Phil, for 15 years.  We are parents to 4 beautiful girls, Leticia( 12 yrs), Christina (10 yrs), Deanna (7 yrs), and Janessa (2 yrs).  I attended Union Bible College for 2 yrs and Ivy Tech and IUPUI where I gained my Associates degree in Nursing. I'm a Registered Nurse by trade working less than PT in this capacity, I'm a Full time SAHM, and have been blessed to share the hope of Reliv for the past 9 1/2 years.  I have recently began crocheting and enjoy doing it in my spare time :) and I love music. I've been in charge of organizing the Blessing Team for approx 6-7 yrs. 

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