Meet Melena - Our Faithful Volunteer!

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • April 17, 2018

Meet Melena, a mom of an adult son on the autism spectrum and a passionate Joni and Friends volunteer! Melena has volunteered at Joni and Friends New England since 2005 in many different capacities. When she first heard about our Family Retreats, she jumped at the chance to lead a team of youth from her church to volunteer in 2006. Since then, she’s led 12 teams of teens and young adults from her church to serve as Short Term Missionaries (STMs).

As one of our devoted and faithful volunteers in the New England area, Melena has taken on many titles while serving at Joni and Friends, including STM, Moms Group Leader, Bible Program Assistant Leader, and STM Leader. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s served on the Leadership Planning Team, the Recreation Team, and is now currently serving in the New England Church Engagement leadership on their Equipping Team!

One moment Melena will never forget was the first time she sang during worship time at Family Retreat. As she looked around, she became very emotional when she saw the full body of Christ in what she referred to as “unadulterated worship.” She remembers thinking, "God sees us all the same - everyone here is praising Jesus!" That moment created a newfound awareness that has influenced her as she’s recruited STMs and has inspired her church’s leadership to become more inclusive of people affected by disability.

Melena truly understands our mission to share the Gospel – not only in her community but across the globe. That’s why when she serves as an STM at Family Retreat, she strives to help open people’s eyes to the world around them – to things they would never see otherwise. When asked what she’d say to someone considering serving at Joni and Friends, she shared that Family Retreat is “simply the best week of your life and will change your awareness, compassion, and desire to bring people affected by disabilities closer to Jesus!”

If you’d like to send Melena a note of appreciation, be sure to leave a comment below. Thank you, Melena, we are so thankful for your faithful service at Joni and Friends!

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I just started working with developmentally disabled women in my community. Wish I could hear about some of your experiences. Right now am especially caring for an older woman with cerebral palsy who has considered physician-assisted suicide for herself. Am praying I can communicate Christ’s love to her. Thank you for your passion Phyllis
  • April 18, 2018
  • 6:30 p.m.
  • Phyllis Barnett
Hello Melena, thank you so much for serving disabled people and Joni and Friends in so many ways!!! Remembering you in prayers. God bless!! Marja
  • April 18, 2018
  • 9:46 a.m.
  • Marja Poutiainen
God continue to Bless & Keep you as you serve Him by loving and serving others! I had the privilege of serving as an STM once at the Shawnee Hills Family Retreat in Friendship, Ohio, in the early 2000's and found it to be one of the best weeks of my life. It was, indeed, a life-changing time in my life. Thanks be to the good Lord for folks like yourself who can continue to serve at Family Retreats along with Joni & Ken & Staff! Love in Christ Jesus! Ruth Cunningham
  • April 18, 2018
  • 4:48 a.m.
  • Ruth Cunningham
It has been a joy to serve with Melina all these years to get to know and adopt your amazing children. You are amazing in your love and care for all you meet. Look forward to serving with you again from now until Jesus comes. Love you so much!
  • April 17, 2018
  • 11:24 a.m.
  • Ron Sanderson
Dear Melena, Thank you for your faithful service to our larger Joni & Friends family. My husband and I are looking forward to our first time as STMs at the NH family retreat in August, and we are grateful for all you have done to set the pace for our ministry there. Would you ever be interested in corresponding with another Christian mom who has an adult child on the spectrum? My friend would be grateful for any support or advice that you can give her. We are all in this together, until Christ returns and makes all things new!
  • April 17, 2018
  • 10:15 a.m.
  • Pamela B. Hughes