by Emily Buckley, editor-in-chief
For Shelly Gonzales, of North Logan, doing good is part of who she is; it is just what she does. For those who are “friends” with her on Facebook, she is a refreshing bright spot amongst the oft-seen complaining, comparing and ranting that gives the social medium a bad reputation. You see, Shelly’s feed is regularly full of inspiring acts of kindness that keep her and her family busy.
Shelly’s mother, who was a registered nurse, raised her to look for ways to serve and do all she could to help make others’ burdens light. That, in combination with her professional background working with children with disabilities and seeing her own son suffer from a disease that caused him to experience hunger, has given her a heart for service.
“It is sometimes easier to make sense of our own trials when we see others suffering and reach out to lift them,” Shelly said.
Shelly and her husband Shane, have four children: twin sons, Hunter and Logan, age 13, Gabby, age 11 and Avery, age 8. As parents, Shelly and Shane have made it a priority to teach their children about the suffering in the world and how abundantly blessed they are as a family.
“There is a lot of pressure among parents to one-up each other and compare activities and children,” Shelly said regarding how she finds time to do all of her service while raising four kids. “We are trying to actively teach our children how fortunate they are, and, sometimes, that teaching means we have to sacrifice some things to do more important things.”
Shelly said she and her kids have also found ways to incorporate charitable acts into their regular activities, for example collecting socks for the nationwide “Socktober” event designed to provide comfort the some 600,000 homeless people in the United States and involving their friends at school and dance class to become a part of the effort, or as simply as inviting friends to their home to make cookies and write thank-you cards to deliver to the local police force.
“They love to serve,” Shelly said. “You know, kids can come to our home and play Xbox and have a great time, but they aren’t talking about it the next day or remembering how good they felt doing it, but after we made cookies and brought them to the local police, there was a lot of discussion about that.”
Shelly is an active participant in several local service organizations including the Little Lambs Foundation, which provides blankets and other comfort items for children who are transitioning into foster homes or are in other traumatic situations. She and her daughters celebrate “Fun Fridays” by delivering Little Lambs comfort kits to the local hospitals.
“The girls look forward to it all week long,” she said. “They have hearts for service and love to be involved in the projects; they are always right by my side. I see a different kind of love from my boys. I am proud of the courage they show in school to watch out for other children who may be quietly suffering or need a friend. There are so many ways to love. It doesn’t have to be grand.”
Other projects Shelly is involved with have included working as a volunteer for CAPSA, where she initiated a project to collect and fill purses filled with hope and necessities for women seeking shelter there. She is a supporter of the local “backpack program” that provides bags full of food for local economically disadvantaged children to take home each weekend and is often involved in clothing, food and shoe drives to support those in need in Cache Valley and far beyond.
Shelly is also actively involved with the service missions at Alpine Church, including Hands Across the Border creating napsack gifts to be delivered to children in Mexico and packing meals for children around the world for Feed My Starving Children.
Recently, Shelly took a service trip to Alabama where she served in the Wellhouse Christian Ministry as part of the Labor of Love program, a nationwide program that blankets different cities with love and service (with 18 major projects going on at once) one weekend at a time. The Wellhouse is a refuge for sexually exploited woman to receive shelter and transitional housing, food, clothing, spiritual guidance and counseling.
“In situations like these you realize, it could be anyone’s daughter in need of help,” Shelly said. “More than likely we will all be in a spot, sometime in life, where we need compassion. Service is chance to open our hearts to those who are there now.”
Shelly believes in the mantra “it takes a village.” Not just to raise a child, but also to make the world a better place. “I sometimes get the credit for these projects, but most often there are many involved, doing whatever part they can, and we are able to do amazing things.”