GENEVA – Friday was Cheryl Pacilio’s day off, but her email inbox had four requests.
Someone wanted to know whether there were any more service opportunities at Lazarus House homeless shelter in St. Charles.
In another email, someone had a mattress in and box spring in good condition to give away.
Someone else wanted to help out at the Food Pak event later this month.
And the fourth message asked for her help in writing a mission statement for a women’s refugee program.
All in a day’s work for Pacilio, who is the director of local serving at First Baptist Church of Geneva.
Director of local serving?
“I call myself a service broker for the church,” said Pacilio, 53, of Geneva. “I help those in the church looking to be the hands and feet of Jesus both within and outside the walls of the building. I find servers for needs and identify needs for servers.”
It is a position that fills a specific role for the church. Most churches coordinate their various service ministries, but they might not have a staff member for this level of service coordination, said Bruce McEvoy, one of the pastors at First Baptist and creator of the director of the local serving position.
A staff position for this is possible in a larger church, he said. First Baptist has a membership of about 850 and 1,900 who worship on weekends.
“Most churches are overwhelmed by the needs of serving their actual bodies – serving themselves,” McEvoy said. “It takes 450 workers to serve our children throughout the Wednesday and Sunday ministries. … We said we have to do that and plug people into the Fox River Valley and make an impact outside of our walls. We are looking to serve the world, by equipping ourselves, the local community and the global community.”
Pacilio is the third person to be the director of local serving.
“God took them other places,” McEvoy said of the two others who filled that post. “Every time I hired a new person, it got better and better.”
McEvoy got the idea for the paid staff position because the church leadership recognized it was not responding adequately to the neighborhood.
“We wanted to be known as a beacon for God’s love,” McEvoy said. “And one way to do that would be to invest in service and make a bigger impact on our neighbors, literally right here in Geneva … Aurora, St. Charles and Batavia. The last three years, we have had a growing effort to be doing more and making a difference in others lives.”
The church also has staff members that see about 250 people a month who come in for food and help in paying rent or utilities.
Other churches even refer people to First Baptist if they can’t help, McEvoy said.
“It’s an endless opportunity,” McEvoy said. “Because even though we think of Geneva as ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ there are abundant needs here.”
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Pacilio does everything from planning large-scale events to hands-on work, which she did last week, washing and packing household items to deliver to a refugee family from Nepal who moved to Aurora.
An educator who works with the deaf by trade, Pacilio said she did a lot of volunteering when her children were young.
“I did leading, event planning, fundraising – all the kinds of things a professional woman does when not working in a profession,” she said. “I have a life of volunteer work that makes me suitable for this. I am not the first person in this position, but I may have taken it to a different intensity because I just can’t say no. When I hear about a situation, I think, ‘How can I solve it?’ I don’t think, ‘That is not my job.’ ”
Sometimes needs and service just come together as pieces in a puzzle, such as when someone called to say they were moving but the furniture was not.
Pacilio called some young guys who can lift and some older guys with a truck.
“The house was put up for sale and sold in 24 hours because it was show-ready,” Pacilio said. “A service group got work, handymen got work, a refugee family got necessary furnishings and Wayside Cross Ministries got the extra furniture.”