By John Masigan
Editor’s Notes: Mike Dauncey (MD) has been an associate pastor at Church of the Valley for five years. In these interview he talks with Pastor John Masigan (JM), pastor of the Kamloops, Barriere and Clearwater district, to understand how leadership works in a church that is known for its Acts of Kindness. The first interview took place during the Extreme Home repair. The second interview was conducted following the Moms’ car giveaway.
JM So here we are with the coordinator and the main man for what we call Acts of Kindness.
MD Extreme Home Repair.
JM Extreme Home Repair. So it’s like you’re the advertising king, because every time I see you with a shirt, you have some kind of AOK, Extreme Home Repair.
MD Marketing that.
JM How long have you been doing all of this?
MD I came in 2010. In fact, when I came to Aldergrove Adventist Church at the time, that’s what it was called, I came right during the program. It was May 16, 2010, I started being a pastor here, and I dove right in, raking someone’s lawn the first day on the job!
JM How did you progress from being just a guy raking the lawn to becoming the coordinator of not just Extreme Home Repair, but AOK?
MD They were looking for an outreach pastor to help coordinate these things, and there’s so much to do, it’s like a full-time job, man. But I love doing the organizing, but I also love getting my hands dirty. I’m not afraid to get in there and smash some furniture up, right? It’s lots of fun but this stuff takes so much coordinating. So I was hired.
JM They were looking for a guy, and you were the one that fits.
MD Well, in 2010 it was only Pastor Dave. All the pastors had left to go to do their Master’s degree or whatever. And so he was looking, he was looking for several different pastors, and he’s like, would you be interested? And I said, yeah, I’d be interested in coming to Aldergrove. And so there were a bunch of selections, but when he talked to me he realized that I was passionate about outreach and video and that sort of thing. And I kind of fit the mold of one of the positions they were looking for.
JM How do you guys do the selecting process (for an AOK recipient)? So how does that work?
MD We have a website and we also have a good relationship with the newspaper. We open it up to the community. If they know someone who could use an extreme home repair, and someone who needs the help, like, maybe it’s a single mom who can’t do anything, she’s working full time, or maybe it’s a family where someone’s disabled. Last year we did a project where we changed a person’s house into wheelchair accessible, because he had this rare disease, and he was now bound to a wheelchair.
So we look for not only a house that needs work, but the story behind the house, the reason that they can’t do it. So we put that out there, and people will get on our website, and they will nominate a person, put their name, their address and phone number, and the reason why they could use an extreme home makeover. And then we take that information and we go and we visit every nomination. We walk through their house, we hear their story, and then we come back to our church and we pray over it, we pull out the whiteboard, we put notes all over it and really pray about it, and it takes time. We really want to select the right person. And this year we feel God has put Sarah in our laps.
JM What is the average number of people that are nominated per year?
MD I would say maybe ten to twelve. That’s where we like to keep it. Because if we had thirty, it would be too overwhelming to go through all the houses, and we’d have to say, I’m sorry, we’re limited, we can only do so much. So it’s been pretty good that way. Some years when there hasn’t been enough nominations, then we’ll put an article in the newspaper, we’ll put posters around Aldergrove, and, we will say, if you know a nomination, go to this website.
So we’ve never had a problem. You know, God has always made sure that we had the right recipient. This year is no exception. We went through six, eight, ten homes, and still did not have that perfect house.
JM The ‘it’ factor?
MD All of a sudden a late entry came in on my email. I said, guys, before our meeting tonight, let’s just go by and see this house. Bam, all of us were thinking the same thing. This is it, this is it. Not only is the house in great need—because sometimes people have stories, but their house isn’t that bad. But she had a house that really needs some help, and her story is perfect.
JM How does the volunteer coordination work? Like, do you set up a specific number, by this day we need, like, this amount of volunteers, on this day we need—because I know that you guys have different days and different things that you need to do. So how does it work?
MD It’s a logistical nightmare, to be honest with you. We’ll have up to a hundred to two hundred people working on this project over the span of two weeks and three weekends. But we do our best to categorize it. I’ve gone to the extent of actually taking emails down and categorizing them. Here’s the painters, here’s the framers, here’s the demo people, and coordinate through email. But sometimes we just go with who shows up. Some days it’s pretty thin. And some days, like a Sunday or something, we’ll have lots of people. And so you just take it as it comes, and the project always gets done. It’s amazing.
JM How many surprise visitors?
MD I wouldn’t say it’s a lot of people. A lot of our people are return volunteers. That means they are coming back every year because they love it. And these people are not part of the church. Some of the most committed volunteers we have are people from the community that love what we do. They don’t attend our church, They have their smoke breaks. But they are out there every day for fifteen days. It’s amazing to me.
We do have some people—one year, some of them are just walking by, and they’re like, “What are you guys doing”? And we told them, and they’re like, well, “We want to help”. They’re there every day helping the rest of the project. So we do have some drop-ins.
But we have a regular database. I’ve got an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and get people to sign up, and I communicate. And we have not only volunteers but local businesses will just out of nowhere say, “Hey, I own a window store. I want to donate windows to this project.” “I’m an electrician, I’d really like to help out.” So once the community sees what’s going on, they want to jump on board.
And so we do have surprises, every year. And we sometimes have surprises – “Oh, we’re not donating this year.” And so it’s like, sorry, we’re not going to donate six thousand dollars’ worth of cabinets. And all of a sudden, we’re like, “Oh, man, we need, we need to find some cabinets. Because, you know, that stuff’s expensive. When this renovation’s done, it’s worth $150,000 plus.
MD After labor and materials. So we try our best to get as much materials donated as possible. In the end we’re still having to donate ourselves from the church about ten to twelve thousand dollars to pull it off. But we get a lot of it donated. So we got lots of surprises every year, and donations-wise, volunteer-wise, and that sort of thing.
JM Why do you do what you do here, not just for EHR but AOK?
MD It’s so awesome to make a difference, to see the difference you make in people’s lives. I mean, EHR is a big one. This is one our largest projects. But to just see their tears of joy, whether we’re giving a van away. Yesterday that lady was just blown away that we were going to send her child to summer camp for free. And it’s rewarding. There’s a lot of hours that goes into this. But the rewards are so great. Just to make a difference in that person’s life is just so rewarding and it makes it all worth it. So I love what I do. You have to love if you’re going to put in 50 to 60 hour weeks doing ministry, you better be having fun doing it. Otherwise you’re going to burn yourself out, and it does get busy. Then you try to take it easy some other weeks. But it’s worth it because you see the results.
JM One of the benefits that you have is being able to work with your family for specific projects that you are involved in. So how does it feel knowing that year after year that you’ve been doing this, you’ve been working not just with this awesome church that you have, but actually your own family?
MD It was really interesting to come and pastor at a church where my own family attends. But it is a large church and there’s four of us pastors, so it does work out. And, to be honest with you, as a kid, my dad and I didn’t do a bunch of stuff together. But now as an adult, to be working alongside him is awesome. I mean, he’s a contractor, it’s what he does. In fact, my dad was not in the church at all most of his life. And to see him being passionate about making sure prayer happens before the project, and he’s become this spiritual guy, and to see the way God has changed this man’s life is amazing. And so I’m making up for lost time. I never would have predicted this. It’s cool that we can do something together, make a difference in people’s lives.
MD …and, but, but yet he’s taught me a lot. And so, uh, it’s very rewarding to, to be able to work alongside my dad and do something together. It’s, it’s great, it really is.
JM So what advice would you have to people or churches that are interested in doing a ministry like Acts of Kindness?
MD I am constantly answering emails and phone calls of people that want to start this in their own church. And that’s what we wanted this to be. We wanted to kind of inspire other churches to do this stuff.
So what I would say to them would be, you need a committed team of leaders. We’ve got a crew of ten to twelve people on a committee because it’s a big thing. So if you’re going to do this, do it right, get a committee of committed people, people who you can count on who are going to follow through, who are willing to meet. When it gets close to project time, you’re meeting every week for several weeks leading up to it.
You need a team of people, doing different things. We have a landscaper on our team. We have a framer on our team. We have a decorator on our team. And then that decorator gets several teams working under her. It doesn’t have to start off huge. It can start off as rebuilding someone’s deck or porch, or landscaping a yard. But it could grow. We now have up to 120 companies that come alongside us and help us do this.
There’s been a turnover with our volunteers. Some have given eight years, and they’ve got to change and move on to some other ministry. So then we get new people involved. That’s key, having a good team behind it. Extreme Home Repair especially has a lot of that organization involved. But other ministries, say a church, some churches call me up and say, “We want to do something. We don’t know what.” And so I’ll give them ideas, and maybe you want to start with something a little simpler, like cars for moms. You got mechanics in your church? You start finding vehicles, donations, and fixing vehicles and giving them to people in need.
JM What is the percentage of people in HER that aren’t a member of your church, that actually come to volunteer?
MD Last year, 54 percent were from the community. Tell me what ministry a church does where they have, you know, a hundred unchurched people helping you.
JM Yeah, that’s awesome.
MD There’s all sorts of positives with Extreme Home Repair. It’s also the relationships you’re making on the project with these people that don’t know Jesus, and I could tell you stories. When someone who isn’t a Christian, when there’s a death in their family, they call me up. This is an Extreme Home Repair volunteer, who doesn’t go to church and doesn’t have a pastor, but wants to talk to a pastor. I’m his Extreme Home Repair pastor, and he calls me up, and we go out for coffee.
JM And I’ve heard about a story from Sarah about her son and how as long as he gets to hang out with Dauncey, that’s fine with him. How does that feel to make an impact on a young individuals like that?
MD Levi’s a great kid and I’m looking forward to getting to know him more. That makes my heart soar, that he would say that about me. And it’s going to be great. And you know what? Just talking right here with the P.E. teacher we’re already planning on what we can do to give him an area where he can take slap shots, shoot hoops, even a batting cage. We’re going to take his skateboard, we’re going to have it refinished and we’re going to put his name on it, and we’re going to mount it above his door. We’re going to take care of him, right?
JM How do you guys follow up? Do you guys constantly follow up and see how they’re doing, even the ones that you’ve done in 2004?
MD So that’s our goal – we want to make sure we maintain relationships. At the beginning we weren’t the best at this, to be honest with you. But over the years we’ve discovered, we’re not doing this just to fix up someone’s home and then walk out of their lives, never to see them again. That’s not right, that’s not proper, that’s not what Jesus would do.
So we want to maintain relationships. In fact we have a volunteer that works every year on the project. We did her house in 2010. And every year she shows up to help. We maintain that relationship. And now she’s coming to church, and now she’s given her heart to the Lord. And it took six years. But because we maintained that relationship, it eventually has happened.
So we want to maintain those relationships and keep the follow-through happening, even if it’s just coming by to see how people are doing, and just to say hi. Give them, maybe a gift at Christmastime, and maintain a relationship. Because you never know in the Lord’s timing when those people will need to come to him.
JM Is there a specific team of people that you set that does the follow-ups to these different projects you have?
MD We don’t have a distinct plan to follow up, and maybe we should. But when another project comes we’ll contact former Extreme Home Repair recipients and ask them, “Would you be willing to come and donate some time at our Charity Golf Classic?” And they’re like, “Yeah, anything for AOK”. You know, we changed their lives. And four, five, six, seven years later they’re still coming out.
So whenever we think of something—oh, we could maybe get someone from the past to help us with this—that’s one way we follow up. Or if we’re doing an Easter drama or a Christmas drama, we’ll say, “hey, we’re doing this at our church. Would you like to come”? We just invite them. So it’s kind of a casual kind of follow-up thing. Most of these people that we’ve done projects for and do ministry to are not Christian people, so we don’t want to be too pushy. We do this no-strings-attached. But we want to also invite them. To invite them to a dramatic musical is not a ‘too-pushy’ thing.
Editor’s Note: The rest of John Masigan’s interview with Mike Dauncey took place in a café following the Moms Car Giveaway.
JM So Dauncey, what, what just happened in, like, the past hour?
MD Well, we made a difference in someone’s life. And that’s what we do at AOK. No strings attached. But it’s an introduction. Did you hear what she said?
JM No, I didn’t.
MD She said, “I’ve been thinking recently about maybe getting back to church.” So if she actually follows through with that, where’s she going to go? She’s going to go to Church in the Valley. Because of this gift she’s been given. By the way I found out her sister lives next door to our church.
MD I know, that’s pretty cool, eh?
JM That’s awesome, man.
MD Just right there. I could go knock on the door. Hey, why don’t you come to Fusion tonight? Bring your son. So all the AOK things work together, right?
JM Today was a pretty cool where you literally surprised her. Where do you want to see AOK go in the next five years?
MD We just want to expand it. We want to affect more lives. We also need to do some more visioning. I want to do relevant stuff. So, if we're doing a program that isn’t meeting needs anymore, it’s time to move it aside and get something new. We’re sitting next to the hockey ring. Kids can’t afford to play hockey; it’s expensive. We want to go out, buy equipment, pay for the ice time, and teach kids hockey.
JM That’s cool.
MD I would want to see us expand. I would want to see us doing Big Brothers/Big Sisters. This town is in need of Big Brothers and Big Sisters. This town’s asking for it and there is not a single organization doing it. We want to pick up that torch and do it. We’ve got a gym now at the church. We’ve got a space where kids can come after school. There’s just so much more we could do.
JM I know.
MD But we need more volunteers because I can’t do everything, right? So we need to get people who are passionate about it. But it goes beyond church members. I know a hockey coach. He’s a very secular individual. But he says, “Dauncey, you get that program going, I will help. I will be there and I will coach.”
JM: How does it feel to have a facility like yours and doing ministry with the kind of stuff that you already have, rock wall, gym, worship, auditorium, a place for kids.
MD I am so stoked. It’s still sinking in. We’ve only been in the facility for like six months. Already we’re just seeing this facility being used for so much. It’s just the tip-of-the-iceberg here. And we give God the glory, okay? That is a facility that will be used for his glory, and we always give him credit for it.
JM: What do you think of Dave Jamieson, Pastor Dave Jamieson?
MD He’s a one-in-a-million. I have never worked with someone that has such vision and passion, you know. He constantly reinforces the vision to the congregation the importance of reaching lost men and women, boys and girls, for God’s kingdom.
He’s got a business background, so he’s good with lots of things. The finances of the church, keeping things running, he’s balanced, right? I mean, we work hard under him, but he also allows us to have balance in our life. If we have a family issue he will understand. I like, I love working here. I’ve been here six years almost. I’ve never been that long in a district, because it’s working. I love working with him, we’re a good team, because we’re like-minded, I’m not jockeying for his position, I don’t have to be lead pastor, I’m happy being associate, because he is directing the church, it’s going somewhere. He’s got the vision. I’m just here to hold his hands up.
JM So you’ve been working with Dave for six years. What kind of lessons have you learned working with a one-of-a-kind pastor, as you have said?
MD Well, one of the things he said once is when someone’s upset at you, they’re angry, and they’re raising their voice and stuff like that. He says “Now, would you like me to respond to you up here, the way you’re responding to me, or should we take it down and answer down here? Which would you like? Right?” And that diffuses the situation.
JM For sure.
MD Under his leadership I just learned that you have to deal with things, you have to be confident, you have to lead. You don’t just back up and take a back burner. If you’re a leader, you lead. And I’ve just become more of a leader under him. There’s a fine balance. You don’t want to be a dictator. But, you do need to, people want to be led, right? People, everything rises and falls on leadership.
JM: How has Pastor Dauncey changed before Aldergrove and now, Church in the Valley?
MD I’m just more confident, I’m not like a pushover. I want to be loving. I don’t like conflict. But what I’ve learned is, you have to deal with it. And right away. You don’t wait two weeks. You deal with what you have to deal with and nip it in the bud. Because it just gets worse, it just grows, it just snowballs.
MD I’ve become more of a leader and willing to chair board meetings. I’m the AOK chair, and you have to be prepared, understand the financials before you come, and all that stuff, right? So I think just watching him, I’ve learnt a lot.
JM Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you so much. This is awesome. Whatever this is is awesome.