Joy El Ministries experiences record number of volunteers

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Released Time volunteers make significant relationships with the children enrolled in the program which influence students for years to come.

Joy El Ministries in Greencastle is one regional nonprofit organization that is highly dependent on volunteers. You might expect that the number of people serving as volunteers for community and nonprofit programs would drop due to the struggling economy. That turns out not to be the case. This year, data from the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that despite the onset of the economic recession volunteering rates overall have held steady. In Joy El’s case, volunteering has even increased.

People still appreciate the value of volunteering for programs that are near and dear to their hearts, and Joy El’s Released Time Bible Program is a program that many people consider to be special. Released Time allows public school students to be released from their classrooms with parental permission for one hour a week of biblical instruction. Released Time annually sees over 1,000 volunteers participate in that program. This year Joy El saw 1,240 volunteers participate — the largest number of volunteers in the history of the organization. The increase over last year’s participation is 8.65 percent.

 As a nondenominational ministry, Joy El draws participants from many different churches and denominations. Volunteers for Released Time come from nine counties in Pennsylvania and one county in Maryland and participate in 28 school districts with 90 different Released Time classes in operation.

 Gary Hornbaker, Director of Released Time Ministries for Joy El, said, “It is exciting to watch God bring individuals together from many churches to form one body.  He is uniting and empowering His servants to advance His Kingdom as He brings boys and girls to Himself through Released Time.”

While the number of Joy El volunteers is at an all-time high, there is still room for more as the ministry continues to grow individual Released Time classes and to expand into new schools. Those who enjoy working with children and are interested in more information about volunteering for Joy El should contact the ministry at 717-369-4539.