Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, was Bill and Velma Austin's first U.S. MAPS RV Volunteer assignment more than 18 years ago. The couple has been coming to SAGU every year since then to spend three to five months serving the university.
Both Bill and Velma grew up in the Assemblies of God. Bill worked with Royal Rangers (a ministry to boys) for 23 years, both at the local and national level. Velma, who worked in the school district with hearing-impaired children, helped some with AG Girls Ministries and was a Girl Scout leader. In addition, the Austins ran a Girl Scout camp for 15 years. They were introduced to RV Volunteers by a small ad in the "Pentecostal Evangel" five years before Bill retired in 1990 from Chrysler.
As RV Volunteers, the Austins have traveled to various parts of the country, assisting at a children's home, church camps, churches and other colleges. However, SAGU is in their hearts.
"We just enjoy it here," Velma says of SAGU. "We love the people. We like working in the library and contributing."
The Austins come to SAGU every year, usually during the fall semester, and have served the campus in numerous capacities. They have helped with inventory, mass mailers, maintenance, and in the post office, financial aid office, registrar's office and library.
"MAPS volunteers, such as Bill and Velma Austin, have provided an invaluable service to the SAGU campus," states SAGU President Kermit S. Bridges. "Over the years, they have saved the university thousands of dollars through their dedicated work."
However, more than the work they do, the couple is valued by students for being encouragers, prayer warriors, supporters and great listeners.
"Their demonstration of servant leadership is a great example to our students, each and every time they have contact with them on campus," Bridges adds. "We are truly thankful to have them as a part of the SAGU family."
The university has embraced the couple for their service as well. In 1999, the Austins were made honorary alumni, a few years later, they were awarded plaques and watches, but mostly it's an ongoing atmosphere of mutual appreciation.
However, the couple does not limit their involvement and influence to the SAGU campus. Both Bill and Velma are licensed hunting guides for youth in Texas and are involved in a mentoring program, in which they teach hunting ethics that reach into everyday life. Velma is also involved in the deaf ministry at University Church in Waxahachie, Texas.
To learn more about U.S. MAPS (Mission America Placement Service) and RV Volunteers, a ministry of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions that coordinates volunteers to assist churches and ministry institutions across the nation, see its Web site at http://USMaps.ag.org. For more information about Southwestern, see http://SAGU.edu.