The work with the greatest impact may be right at home

Sheera Maendel and Marlys Swinger
Sheera with Marlys Swinger, a composer and great-grandmother COURTESY OF MAENDEL FAMILY

Sheera Maendel 1991 –

A software developer at Maple Ridge, a Bruderhof in upstate New York, Sheera has done international relief work with refugees several times, on the Greek island of Lesbos and in a hospital in Jordan.

You can run all over the world on wonderful initiatives, but I’ve come to feel that it’s what you do for people who are part of your life from day to day that has the greatest impact. That’s why I love the “normal” work that comes with living in a community. There are endless opportunities: opening your home to someone who is lonely, caring for a child or elderly person, cleaning for a neighbor who’s feeling overwhelmed. The catch is self-sacrifice: How ready are you to go out of your way for others?

As a third-generation Bruderhof member, I’m concerned that we remember this – that our community doesn’t become just another lifestyle, but that the spirit of Jesus keeps us alive, so that we can keep alive the vibrancy of the original vision: mutual service in communal work and worship.

How ready are you to go out of your way for others?

And the fact is that this mutual service makes it possible for us to send out groups of volunteers at short notice to respond to disasters. In 2015, at a time when thousands of refugees were making the sea crossing from Turkey, I went to Lesbos with a group of twelve that mobilized over a weekend to volunteer there with Save the Children. None of us had to worry about losing our jobs or that our families wouldn’t be taken care of while we were gone, because the whole community rallied behind that effort.

Sheera volunteering with Save the Children on the island of Lesbos. Credit Courtesy of Maendel family

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