Ferguson's helping heart has been felt by many
Elmbrook member is James Place volunteer leader
Janis Ferguson is an insurance agent by trade and could work full time - if she wanted to.
But being involved in her church and volunteering her time is more rewarding, even though it doesn't bring in the big bucks.
"It's really comforting to help others," Ferguson said. "I just love to help people. It's my passion."
Ferguson has been a member at Elmbrook Church for 14 years.
She serves as a volunteer at the church's information booth on Saturdays and helps out whenever and wherever she's needed. For the last four years, she also has served as volunteer coordinator at James Place, a community center in downtown Waukesha.
James Place is a branch of Elmbrook Church - and Ferguson said she couldn't imagine her life without it.
"If I were to go full time it would keep me from doing what I love, and I love James Place and Elmbrook Church so much," she said.
Mission has grown
Mike Murphy, Elmbrook Church's local mission and community engagement pastor, see this as well.
"She's a key person to our overall mission of what we do," Murphy said. "She has such a joy in serving and has a love for people."
Ferguson said James Place started about five years ago as a place people could go to get their blood pressure checked.
"At first all I did was schedule nurses, but it has grown into something bigger," she said.
The center now has hosts bible study groups, a listening club for those learning English, and tutoring. People can go there for help finding a job, to get information about other community resources and even to get help finding a shelter if they have no where to stay.
The center also holds movie nights, picnics and fall and Christmas programs to build community camaraderie.
"We always try to stay externally focused," she said. "That's really our goal. We try to reach out to others.
"There's a lot of hurting people out there, so we open our arms to everyone from the community and help where we can. It's not just for members of the church. We work with the entire community."
Sometimes when people come to James Place all they want is a simple favor.
"They ask if we could pray for them and we say, 'yes' and they are like, 'Wow, we've never had that done before,' " Ferguson said.
Supported by many
Although her days get busy at James Place, she wouldn't trade it for anything.
"I don't see myself doing anything other than this at the moment," Ferguson said. "I make it known to my family how important it is to me and they understand it's a passion of mine to help others."
Even so, Ferguson said, she is just one of many who make the operation run.
"I don't volunteer alone," Ferguson said. "There are a lot of faithful hearts, and we all work together. There are a lot of loving hearts, and each one has their own calling. It's great to be a part of it."
However, without Ferguson's leadership and dedication, Elmbrook and James Place wouldn't be the same, Murphy said.
"She's one in a million," he said. "She's so dependable and always does what she says she's going to do."
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Just the Facts
NAME: Janis Ferguson
KNOWN FOR: volunteering at James Place and Elmbrook Church
PEARL OF WISDOM: "There are a lot of loving hearts, and each one has their own calling."
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