This was our third year volunteering at Winter Nights during the two weeks the guests are with us at MDUUC. Our first time was only a few months after we had joined the church. Each year has been both similar and different. There are familiar traditions- making lunches, playing games with the kids, standing together holding hands before meals. Each year there are new guests—new people to meet and get to know a little bit, new people for whom we try to help be comfortable during their stay with us. There are so many reasons it means a lot to us to help with Winter Nights. Here are just a few.


  • It makes me appreciate life;
  • it makes me feel that I’m doing something right by helping people who are struggling with life and don’t have the same privileges as others;
  • it makes me feel proud of myself by taking my own time to help others;
  • everybody is human, everybody has the same right to be equal with everyone, and volunteering at Winter Nights makes me think more about everyone being equal.

Johanna—Winter Nights gives me another chance to:

  • contribute to the world in a small yet significant way;
  • be with my son while he works to help the world be a better place;
  • interact with people we have never met, and do something useful for these guests at a time of stress for their families;
  • remember the things that are truly important in life;
  • observe and appreciate the resilience of human beings;
  • share my violin playing with people, some of whom don’t usually(or have never) hear violin and some of who have lots of experience with the violin or classical music;
  • give the guest parents a bit of a break as we hang out with their children;
  • hope that the things we provide fortify and support the Winter Nights families at this point in their lives as they work towards permanent living situations.

As a parent, it’s incredibly important to me to have my son interact with, and be involved with, many kinds of situations and many kinds of people. I’m so grateful MDUUC hosts Winter Nights and that we are lucky enough to get to be a small part of it each year.

Zach and Johanna, church volunteers