Working at Love & Care Ministries a Learning Experience for HSU Freshman
Editor’s Note: Everyday Ministry is an occasional feature of Spirit of Abilene, highlighting people who weave ministry into their everyday lives. If you know someone you would like to see featured, email email@example.com with the name, contact information and a brief description of the person’s ministry.
By LORETTA FULTON
Life is filled with learning right now for Peyten Castillo.
The May graduate of Cooper High School is a freshman at Hardin-Simmons University, majoring in nursing. She’s taking classes on campus, wearing a mask and observing social distancing rules. But university classes aren’t the only setting that’s providing an education for Peyten. She also works part time Monday through Thursday at Love & Care Ministries, which serves Abilene’s neediest citizens.
Peyten started as a volunteer in February 2019 and did such a good job she was hired in March 2020. It didn’t take long for that experience to become a learning experience for Peyten, too.
“It showed me that I have been very sheltered,” she said.
Peyten’s father, Randal Castillo, is manager of the food pantry at Love & Care Ministries. Peyten told him she wanted to volunteer at the ministry and her dad got the OK from Mark Hewitt, executive director, and Terry Davis, director of ministries. For the first few months, beginning in February 2019, Peyten worked in the clothing area before moving to the kitchen, under the supervision of Janet McGee, director of the food ministry. Moving to the kitchen also proved to be a learning experience for Peyten.
“I’ve learned a lot of cooking skills from Janet,” Peyten said.
Peyten attended Southwest Park Baptist Church growing up but had never taken part in mission trips or similar kinds of service. She wishes now that she had and plans to be active in missions and other offerings at Hardin-Simmons after she gets her freshman year under her belt. The reason is she never expected to be so affected by an experience as she has been working with the homeless and needy at Love & Care Ministries.
“I never knew how many people needed help,” she said, “until I came here.”
Peyten signed up to volunteer as a worker, not expecting to find a connection with the people served. But she has. She asks what kind of day they’re having when people arrive for lunch. They are people who are looking for a job and trying to feed families. They are under a lot of stress and Peyten provides a listening ear.
“I tell them God has a plan for you,” she said.
Peyten’s plan for herself is to continue either as a paid worker or volunteer at Love & Care Ministries while getting her degree in nursing. She gets too much out of the experience to give it up. She not only is learning job skills but also is learning a lot about people who are less fortunate. She feels good about her work because of what she sees on the faces of the people she serves.
“They usually go out of here smiling,” Peyten said.
And so does she.