As a Volunteer: Looking Up to Motown Staff

Maddie (left) clearing lots during one of her first trips to Motown in 2011.

Maddie (left) clearing lots during one of her first trips to Motown in 2011.

I was first introduced to Motown Mission in 2010 when I was an awkward middle schooler whose mom forced me to participate in mission work within the city of Detroit. I honestly don’t remember too much from this trip except that we put up insulation and I was hot, sweaty, itchy, and not at all happy about it. But apparently something stuck because here I am seven years later with five Motown trips under my belt and serving on staff for the summer.

After this 2010 trip to Detroit I began to become more interested and involved within missions and volunteer work; especially regarding topics of social justice, advocacy, and empowerment on a larger, community based level. From that point on I knew I wanted to be involved with helping and serving alongside others and found many outlets within my community to do so. I found that these volunteer opportunities and experiences left my heart overflowing and I genuinely felt at my happiest. My heart for missions has since grown.

During the multiple mission trips I experienced, I always looked up to the staffers and thought that a summer of service would be so cool (aka those kids were so cool and I wanted to be like them). Besides wanting to be cool I really wanted a summer full of mission. A summer full of truly feeling God’s presence and being immersed in something I love so much and am incredibly passionate about. So when the talk of summer plans, jobs, internships, etc. began last November the idea of Motown popped into my head. After looking at a variety of other missional organizations, Motown felt like where the Lord was leading me. Motown does missions extremely well! The model of project partners and working alongside Detroiters while providing a time of reflection and hospitality for volunteers at the center creates a positive solution in assisting with the revitalization of Detroit. I answered His call and here I am.

I struggled immensely at the beginning of the summer to figure out exactly where I fit. I wasn’t a volunteer yet the volunteer perspective was all I knew. I was now in a position of leadership to guide others through their week and was not confident in my abilities. But at the same time I felt that my previous volunteer perspective brought a new and helpful insight to the staff. I was able to relate to the experiences of the volunteers that come to serve in Detroit and have a better idea of what worked well during my volunteering time and what didn’t. I wanted to pour into those who come to this incredible city similarly to the ways in which staffers had done so to me. I wanted to help volunteers fully process and reflect on their experiences and all that they’ve witnessed in the city. I wanted to be fully immersed in my time here this summer in Detroit. Living and engaging fully in the city and exploring all that this community has to offer.

My journey thus far throughout the summer has been extremely transformational. I have been grown and stretched in ways beyond what I ever thought I would. Even though my perspectives, views, and position has changed within my Motown Mission experience, the same heart and passion is present behind why I choose to serve in the city. Thankful for the ways in which this Motown community has allowed for the transformation of my heart. I can’t wait to see the ways in which the Lord continues to work within my life as the summer is quickly coming to an end.


Maddie Eiler is an Organizational Communications major at Calvin College


Donate to Maddie's work with Motown Mission
Each staff person is encouraged to raise $500 toward the next class of Motown Mission staff.