Justine Currie Program Director, Indiana MENTOR
Grant Recipient, Lafayette Urban Ministries Homeless Shelter
Justine Currie has been volunteering at the Lafayette Urban Ministries Homeless Shelter (LUM) for the past 16 years. LUM is an organization of 42 greater Lafayette area churches that serves as a social safety net for at-risk children and working families. Through 20 different programs of service and support, LUM gives hope and brighter futures to low-income members of the community.
Justine spends the first Saturday of each month at LUM’s emergency shelter, preparing food, serving a meal, interacting with guests and helping clean the facility. The shelter serves between 35-48 guests daily, and Justine considers interacting with them the most rewarding part of her experience. She’s consistently impressed by the compassion of guests and volunteers she’s seen over the years.
“Learning about human kindness and the generosity of complete strangers is the most rewarding part of volunteering,” said Justine. “It makes me want to do more.”
Justine knows the impact a meaningful volunteer experience can have on at-risk youth, and became involved with LUM while searching for opportunities that allowed teens to volunteer through her church’s youth group. She began organizing groups of teens and adults to volunteer at the shelter and the experience has been so positive that she hasn’t looked back since. Over the years, Justine has personally mentored over 50 children, some of whom were very troubled. She encouraged each of them to accompany her to the shelter and volunteer.
“They’ve had their eyes opened by working at the shelter,” she said. “It’s been educational not only for my own children, but for neighbors’ children and the children I’ve mentored. It exposes them to so much more in the world.”
The shelter is located in a heavily residential neighborhood, so maintaining a good relationship with neighbors in the community is crucial to the success of its programs. As part of her volunteer duties, Justine interacts with neighbors to ensure nobody is upset about any of the programming. She takes leftover meals to neighbors and invites them to LUM barbeques to give the residents of the shelter more of a community feel and set the neighbors at ease.
“This is the passion of my life!” Justine shared. “It started as a lesson to my children on the importance of giving back to communities, but I’m the one who ended up benefitting, and I feel blessed.”
“The volunteer work Justine accomplishes with the Lafayette Urban Ministries Homeless Shelter is instrumental in helping those in need around our community,” said Janet Mummey, Regional Director of Indiana MENTOR. “She has impacted countless lives and helped people overcome significant obstacles. Justine has a truly caring and compassionate approach that is witnessed at all times. Indiana MENTOR and our community are fortunate to benefit from her perseverance when times are challenging, happiness to help in whatever way possible, patience to see things through, and unyielding generosity in all that she does.”
“We go to work every single day knowing that we are making lives better at Indiana MENTOR” said Justine. “Not many people get to have that satisfaction every day, and I am fortunate to have that feeling both at work and when I volunteer with Lafayette. I am blessed.”