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Volunteer Family: The Bakers

Each year, Family Life magazines is honored to spotlight a local family who goes above and beyond when it comes to helping their community through volunteer work. Collectively, James (Jim), Clementine (Clem), and Carolyn Baker have been valuable volunteers at MUST Ministries for over 35 years. MUST Ministries is a nonprofit organization that provides help to those in need by offering a range of services including emergency shelter, transitional housing, meals, groceries, clothing, job readiness, and job placement.

Clem Baker has been volunteering at MUST Ministries for 18 years, while her husband Jim has been volunteering at MUST for 16 years. After having a stroke two-and-a-half years ago, their daughter, Carolyn, moved in with them and has been volunteering at MUST for a year. The Bakers volunteer at MUST Ministries on Wednesdays and other days if called to fill in.

Clem is an interviewer in the client intake area. Before developing health problems, she also volunteered with the MUST Summer Lunch Program for several years. Jim works in the food pantry with five magnificent volunteers who call themselves The A Team. Carolyn is a receptionist at MUSTs front desk.

Clem was inspired to volunteer by an assistant pastor at Kennesaw United Methodist Church, who was also a volunteer for MUST. After Clem told Jim about all the good things that MUST was doing for the community, he decided to visit for a tour of the facilities. While there, he met Dale, Hank, Jamie and Kim. Dale gave him the job of backdoor ambassador where he accepted clothing and household donations. After several months, Jim moved to work in the food pantry and has been there for almost 17 years.

Before her stroke, Carolyn worked as an engineer at Valero St. Charles Oil Refinery in Louisiana, where she volunteered with the United Way and other local charities. In 2016, she was named Volunteer of the Year at Valero St. Charles. During her hospital stay and rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Carolyns case manager suggested that she get back out in the community to interact with more people. Since her parents would be there with her, MUST Ministries was a great opportunity to begin volunteering again. Carolyn has enjoyed greeting clients and working with the wonderful Wednesday front desk volunteers.

Jim and Clem inspired their teenage neighbors (from three different families) to volunteer at MUST. Their parents noticed a change in their appreciation for their own families and the things that they had taken for granted at home. These teenagers have now graduated into adulthood and are still helping others.

Over the years, the need for help from MUST Ministries has increased in the areas of housing requirements, rental and utility assistance, and food and clothing. The Bakers have met people who were once clients but have come back to volunteer at MUST. Not long ago, a former MUST housing client brought clients from her workplace to MUST and showed them how to apply for food and clothing assistance.