Volunteer Spotlight: Jessica Ilich and Waterfront Church

Since 2016, Waterfront Church has provided breakfast at Calvary on the fourth Saturday of each month. In 2018, they expanded their volunteer efforts at Calvary and now provide breakfast twice a month on the first Saturday and fourth Saturday. In honor of their fifth anniversary of serving breakfast for the women at Calvary, we decided to check in with Jessica Ilich, who leads this volunteer effort.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your volunteer group?

I have lived in DC since 2010 and started attending Waterfront Church in 2015. I have always loved baking and hospitality and try to serve whenever I can. When I began attending Waterfront, I helped the hospitality team and baked for some of the services but wanted to do more. During the Barracks Row Festival, I ran into my neighbor, Elaine Johnson, at the Calvary table. Elaine told me about the different volunteer opportunities, and I was really interested and excited about the meal service. Waterfront is a church that is here to serve and pour into our community, so I was not surprised when our Pastor and his wife were in full support and even excited about organizing a group to serve once a month at Calvary.

How are you involved with Calvary Women’s Services?

Since May 2016, I have been leading a team of volunteers that makes and serves breakfast on the fourth Saturday of each month. Because so many people from Waterfront were interested in helping at Calvary, we had enough people for another team. In August 2018, we started another Waterfront team that serves breakfast on the first Saturday of each month. Kristi Boswell began serving with us in 2016 and is the “first Saturday” team leader. Kristi and I make sure we have enough volunteers and food for each breakfast and coordinate logistics to transport the volunteers and food to Calvary. We serve as many hot dishes as possible and have griddles that we bring to Calvary to make pancakes and bacon on site.

What do you like most about your work with Calvary?

Hands down, the women at Calvary are my favorite part. I realize that this opportunity is to serve them, and not about how it makes us feel, but the women have always made us feel so welcome and appreciated. Seeing, speaking with, and getting to know some of them has been truly life-giving.

What has surprised you most about volunteering with Calvary?

I’m surprised by how bittersweet serving at Calvary has been. Of course, we want the women to succeed and live independently, but we sure do miss them when they leave. Different women have left a mark on many of our volunteers’ hearts.

What has been your most memorable experience at Calvary?

Some of the comments the women have made about the food crack me up. One year around Christmas, many of our volunteers were out of town, so my family had the opportunity to serve with me.  We made biscuits and gravy, and one of the women said, “slap your mama. Those biscuits & gravy are good.” My husband pointed to my mom and said, “her mom is right there; go ahead.” And everyone just cracked up.

What would you tell someone thinking about getting involved with Calvary?

Be open, be yourself, and realize that it is a privilege to serve these women and be involved with this organization.

Waterfront Church volunteers at their first visit to Calvary in May 2016

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