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Volunteer Profile: Cassie Avignon and Sarah Ulman

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Photo: left, Sarah Ulman, right, Cassie Avignon, far right, Mary Van Sickle (staff member)

When you walk into Woodland on a weekend, the first person you see is likely one of our Welcome Team volunteers. Cassie and Sarah, two of these friendly faces, shared about their volunteer experience with us.

As a student at Bethel University, Sarah took a course taught by Woodland Hills pastors Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy, which ended up being one of the most formative courses in her college career. She says, “I decided to check out Woodland and I’ve been coming here ever since.”

Cassie has been coming to Woodland since she was sixteen years old. She participated in the youth group and made some of her best friends here. Throughout the years Woodland has always been a place she can call home. She says, “There’s just something about it! I always find myself back here.”

Soon after coming to Woodland Sarah wanted to feel a more personal connection to the community. After learning about volunteer options in the bulletin she joined the Welcome Team. Sarah says about the experience, “People are walking into church with a variety of emotions and experiences–nerves, resentment, awkwardness, excitement–who knows. So being able to look them in the eyes, smile and welcome them in, no matter what they’re feeling about being there, is really what the Welcome Team is all about.”

Cassie felt like she wanted to be a volunteer on the Welcome Team, but she was nervous about it. Would she have to talk a lot? What would it be like? She asked if she could do a trial run, and did a one-weekend experiment before deciding to join. Cassie now knows that she had nothing to be nervous about, and she has nothing but great things to say about the Welcome Team. Volunteering has given her the opportunity to connect with people she would have never met otherwise. She has also been able to pray for those in need and share the gift of hospitality. She remembers one time in particular when a congregation member was having a very hard day, and Cassie was able to pray with them and lift their spirits.

During the week Sarah works as a Program Manager at The Lift, which is an organization with offices right inside Woodland! The Lift works with youth and young adults on the East Side to develop life and job skills. Cassie is a first grade French teacher. Every once in a while, she’ll see current and past students at Woodland.

As for a few fun facts: Cassie’s favorite book is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. She loves action movies and enjoys dancing in her free time. Sarah says that like any good millennial, she’s binge-watching Netflix—currently the show Parks and Recreation.

Thank you Cassie and Sarah and all our weekend volunteers who make Woodland the place it is!

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