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Every summer for the last 10 years, Freedom Consulting Group’s COO, Norm Walters, has taken a trip to Vonore, Tennessee. No, it’s not a rustic family vacation to the countryside – Norm spends this time working with a group of young adults to help those in need. Through Circle G Mountain Ministries, Norm and his group have done everything from roof replacements and window installations to building sheds and even constructing a tiny house, all in the name of giving back. Hear more from Norm about his annual mission trip in this Q&A:

What was the most meaningful aspect of this trip for you personally?

As someone who grew up poor, living for years in a tiny old house with an outhouse and only cold running water in the kitchen, I really feel for the people we encounter when we work on these trips. Not everyone seems to be able to overcome their circumstances for many reasons, whether it be a lack of opportunity, a lack of education, or mental or physical health problems. The people we encounter and do work for genuinely appreciate what we do for them, and it’s great getting to know them on a personal level.

How does your work with Circle G Mountain Ministries influence your daily life?

The sad thing about these trips is that they’re only one week out of the year and it’s so easy to forget what you’ve seen in between trips. However, I do try to remember throughout the year that, by the grace of God, I could be in their position. I keep in touch with the family that runs Circle G and try to provide assistance to them and their projects throughout the year.

How did you first get involved with this organization?

My wife made me? Seriously, my wife was involved with the youth group in our church and was always trying to get me to go on a trip with them. I always had plenty of reasons not to go – not enough PTO, too much work to do, etc. She didn’t give up, though, so one year I finally gave in and went on a trip. That particular trip could be best described as the trip from Hell. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong – from getting the mini bus and our van stuck in the dark and the pouring rain on an old logging road when we took a wrong turn to having one of the youth get into a bees’ nest and having to rush him to urgent care to the bus breaking down alongside the highway on our way home. After that trip, it would have been easy to just never go again, but between seeing the good work that we did for people who really needed it and seeing how the youth all came together despite the adversity, I was hooked. 

Share a funny story from one of your trips.

One year, my daughter (who was 18 at the time) and I were on a metal roof using brooms to brush on sealer to stop leaks. It was really hot up there! Jack, the gentleman who started the camp, climbed up to the roof and suggested to my daughter that she should take a break and he would take her place. Jack has only one arm and was about 80 years old at the time. So, my daughter hesitantly gave him her broom and climbed down. Jack and I started working side-by-side with our brooms, trying to ignore the heat and get the job done. After about 15 minutes, I picked my head up and realized that Jack was a good 20 feet behind me. It was very humbling to be outworked by an 80-year-old man with one arm! 

How did your trip relate to or influence your work with FCG?

That’s a tough one. I guess it makes me truly appreciate how far I’ve come in life and the blessings I’ve received, including the opportunity to be a part of FCG. It makes me appreciate that we’re able to provide good jobs to so many people to help them provide for themselves and their families, and it hopefully helps me to be more empathetic when employees are going through problems in their own lives.

From mission trips to daily life, at Freedom Consulting Group, we firmly believe there’s a lesson in every situation. Have one you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it.

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