Mrs. Helene Hoffman, Office Coordinator
March 30, 2011 to present
“I grew up locally in Reiffton. I attended church with my family every week, but it didn’t mean anything. At church they talked about God, but He was far away and distant. As a young child I remember going to our local Oley Fair and receiving a Dial-A-Story card. We hung it on our bulletin board in the kitchen by the sink. After school I always enjoyed calling that phone number and listening to those stories as I stood at our kitchen counter. I still have that original card. It’s been laminated.
In 1981 during my senior year, my working career began. Since I had completed all of the necessary credits, I was part of the school’s business co-op program. I graduated from Exeter High School in 1982. This was the beginning of my becoming an administrative assistant supporting senior executives/management in professional corporate settings.
On December 8, 1991, Mark and I got married on his birthday. Mark had the great privilege of growing up in a strong Christian household where his parents taught a Good News Club in their home. He is an amazing man of God who loves his Lord. We laugh when we think that, as a child, I was actually listening to the voices of my future in-laws and husband as they told the stories with the Dial-A-Story program. His parents faithfully continue to serve the Lord.
Through the years I was still empty deep inside, and something was definitely missing in my life. On a Tuesday evening in February/March of 1994, I was flipping channels on tv while Mark was working late. Billy Graham was on. At any other time in my life I would have just passed it by. However, this time was so different. Every word he spoke made sense, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. This is what was always missing in my life. Jesus was the answer. I now understood that I was separated from God because of my sin, Jesus died on the cross for me personally, and I needed Jesus to be the Lord and Saviour of my life. Before I knew it, I was on my knees. A large weight was lifted off of my shoulders, and I physically glowed for days. “Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Mark and I started to attend CEF Berks’ annual Banquet at the Fleetwood Grange when his parents invited us one year. We enjoyed it and attended every year after that. We have great memories as we enjoyed listening to the speakers, seeing the staff live and in person, catching up with friends, and making new ones. It was always packed full of people who loved, supported, and prayed for this ministry. And remember, don’t pass the food past the dot.
I know how important it is for children to simply hear the Gospel and have it explained to them so that they can understand it at an early age since I walked through it myself. Through a series of events, it was evident that the Lord was moving me away from the corporate world, which I really did enjoy. In 1999 I began volunteering with CEF Berks and added more responsibilities through the years. I was Lynda Vitalo’s helper and counselled with the children at her evening Good News Club at the Salvation Army in downtown Reading. I helped to color and cut out materials for the lessons. In 2000 I began substituting as a telephone counselor for the Dial-A-Story program. I started to fill in for Janice Sands at the office, when she served as the Office Coordinator, while she was away or on vacation. In 2001 I was Mary VanArt’s helper, counselling with the children and teaching the memory verses at her after-school Good News Club at her house. In 2004 I was hired as the 5-Day Club Coordinator for their summer programs, scheduling the backyard clubs at homes and churches and making sure the Summer Missionaries had accurate driving directions (before GPS). In 2005 each week I typed the 3-part carbon donation receipts on their electric typewriter, doublechecked/reconciled the deposits, and took them to the bank after Miriam Rissmiller served as the Financial Secretary. In 2007 I became the Treasurer after Linda Rentschler served.
At one point I began talking to Mark about how great it would be to work part-time and be part of the staff at CEF Berks because of what the Lord was doing there. One weekend he suggested I call Linda Ruth, the previous Director, and let her know what we’ve been talking about. I called her that Monday and told her that if there were any positions available in the future that I would like to be put on the list. She said that there wasn’t a list, but that there was going to be an opening. I told her that I was definitely interested and submitted my resume. She was surprised that I nor Mark didn’t know anything about it. On March 30, 2011 I was hired as the Office Coordinator when Janice Sands moved to Lancaster.
Through these years it has been an honor and a privilege to meet and serve alongside so many wonderful people. When you look back through your life, it’s incredible to see the Lord’s hand every step of the way as He orchestrates the events in His story as only He can.
I will always remember the very first child that I counselled with. He had raised his hand at the Invitation, so I asked if he had a question or if there was something he wanted to talk about. He said, “I need God in my life.” Dylan H. certainly understood God’s Word as we talked through the Counselling Cards. He made his own decision, asking Jesus to be his personal Saviour, and becoming part of God’s family that afternoon. The memories of the children that I’ve met through the years are so special and sweet to me. They are such great kids. Many have deep questions. Many are going through some really tough times.
What an incredible opportunity our team has here at CEF Berks. We get to be a tiny part of the Lord’s great big plans as the children hear God’s Word (the only Truth to hang on to), the Good News of the Gospel (the best news ever), and explain how they can begin a personal relationship with the Lord and have their lives changed right now and for all of eternity. Now that’s what’s going to change our city of Reading and Berks County. The Lord will do it as He changes one heart and one life at a time.”