Volunteer Spotlight – James and Kate Helle

Two and a half years ago, James and Kate Helle began to ask God, “What’s next?” Recent empty nesters, they heard about FLS from dear friends, Keri and Steve Spriggs, who invited them to come alongside kids during Families Building Futures. Serving that first night, James says with humor, they withstood some ‘testing.’

That initial testing has given way to well-earned trust from the children they serve each Monday night. Whether working with power tools to craft personalized wooden signs or with gardening tools to create a harvest, James and Kate invest in kids’ futures.

“We’ve planted a LOT of lettuce,” laughs Kate. Observing the Helles in action, it’s clear they’re planting a lot more than that.

The Helles strive to model a healthy adult relationship–a husband and wife interacting respectfully and lovingly with one another. When engaged in woodworking, crafts, cooking or weeding, the Helles often hear from the kids who surround them, “Are you married?” Curious questions give rise to conversation, and it’s clear that more than vegetable seeds are being planted. Seeds of faith, hope, and love are taking root.

Since that first night, the varied needs–both seen and unseen–of the kids they serve remain a draw for James and Kate, who are prepared for whatever may greet them.

Even if it’s a dead rodent.

As James arrived from work one summer evening to volunteer, his eleven year-old friend told him that his suit and tie “looked like a funeral.” He then somberly informed James that a squirrel had died. James replied, “Well, we oughtta bury it!” Together, the little group dug a hole, crafted a stone plaque and flower planter, and conducted the funeral, all the while nurturing subtle life lessons.

Building relationships with the children of FLS gives James and Kate an appreciation for the load their single moms carry. “We want to give them a break,” James says. “We want to let the kids just be who they are.”

The stability the Helles are sowing in young hearts peeks through in another frequent question:

“Are you going to be here next week?” 

“Being here” is what the Helles are all about. They have been so moved by these experiences,, and so committed to the transformative work within moms’ lives, that James recently joined the FLS Board.

Through seeds, squirrels, saws, and sacrifice, Kate insists “they get out of it more than they put into it.” We at FLS remain deeply grateful for the Helle’s joyful service. What they’re cultivating will live on.

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