What it means to be part of the Good Works Inc. team

Good works staff is carefully chosen and committed to the organization's mission of helping the poor. Photo courtesy of Good Works Inc.

Prayer. Welcoming others. Giving and receiving. For staff members of the Ohio-based ministry, these are some of the important practices that have made the organization successful in serving the poor.

Good Works Inc. is careful to hire people who are a good fit for the community and the work. In addition to its staff of 25, the ministry provides opportunities for dozens of interns whose service ranges from several weeks to a full year.

Here, a handful of staff members share insights about their work and their lives.

Sherilyn Weinkauf (in the pink shirt in the photo above) has been with Good Works for 15 years. She first came to the ministry after she and her children, ages 4 and 9, were evicted from their rental home. She married staff member Ken Weinkauf three years ago. She speaks of immediately feeling welcome in the community: “My kids and I were sitting in the living room [of the shelter]. We had just gotten there. We hadn’t had the orientation yet, and none of the paperwork had been done. We’re sitting there thinking, ‘What’s going to happen now?’ And someone sticks their head in the doorway and says, ‘C’mon, let’s go eat dinner.’ I felt included and welcome. Until that point, I was sitting there all white-knuckled.”

Paul Richard (sitting next to Sherilyn Weinkauf) has served as Good Works’ director of operations since 2000. He had worked in a similar capacity in Kansas City for a ministry that assisted single mothers but was managing a local shoe store when introduced to Good Works. He stresses the importance of nurturing the staff: “With Good Works -- whether you’re an intern, a resident, staff or volunteer -- everybody is on this journey toward the Lord. And there is no point at which I rise above needing those times of being ministered to. There is very intentional time given to healthy relationships between staff. There is intentional affirmation and encouragement given to staff on a regular basis. There is time given for prayer for staff if somebody’s struggling with something. It’s an important element of keeping us strong as a community. And then the work that we do, if we’re functioning well as a community, becomes overflow into the lives of the people who we’re serving. And that is excellent. You’re not living from a place of being drained.”

Dawn Tobin (bottom row, striped shirt) joined Good Works full time in fall 2008 after a college internship there a few years earlier. The daughter of missionaries, she spent most of her childhood in Thailand. She notes that inviting people to serve others in the midst of their struggle is an important part of hospitality: “Every person [at Good Works] has an identity where they’re not only receiving but giving. So for me that’s significant, because I think a lot of people come to relationships -- myself included -- thinking, ‘How can I give? How can I help this person?’ And there’s a subtle superiority in that, because you’re saying, ‘I’m better than you. I have something to give you. I can fix you. I can solve your problem.’ When in reality, we’re both people, and we both need to see the dignity in each other and be able to humbly receive each other’s gifts and also be able to acknowledge each other’s weaknesses.”

Ken Weinkauf (top row, far right) oversees Good Works’ Samaritan Projects and its website. He lived at the shelter for nine months beginning in 1990 and has volunteered or worked for the ministry ever since. A full-time staff member since 1995, he is married to staff member Sherilyn Weinkauf. He talks about finding his calling at Good Works: “A lot of people come and learn how to do ministry here, then they go somewhere else to do the ministry that they’re called to. That’s perfectly fine. We love being a ministry incubator. But that’s not my calling. This is where I’m called to. I’ve known that since I was a volunteer, after I became a resident. God made it clear to me that the reason he allowed me to go through those things was so I could do my ministry here.”

Andrea Horsch (bottom row, second from right) has been with Good Works for six years, working first as a caregiver offering guidance to Timothy House residents and now as director of caregiving. She worked at the shelter one summer during college. She discusses an aspect of her life outside Good Works: “I like to have intentional relationships that involve a lot of mutual give-and-take. That means that I try not to default to the relationships that are easiest for me to maintain. I want to, on purpose, have a more broad idea of who I would consider a friend. And it also means I want to have purpose in the content of those relationships. I want to spend time with people who it’s not necessarily easy to spend time with. I want to be asking God to guide me in those relationships, and I want to ask God to help me figure out what they need in a friend.”