Kristin Collins would dance in an elevator with you if it would cheer you up. She’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. The 30-year-old Tennessee native has an unmistakable passion for bring joy to people’s lives – something that was modeled for her throughout her childhood by her father.

Kristin grew up an only child in a suburb of Knoxville; though she hasn’t lived in Tennessee in nearly a decade, her southern accent still gives her away. Her father was a pastor and counselor, and Kristin recalls seeing churches grow from meeting in her basement to renting spaces to finding permanent locations. She can’t remember a time she didn’t know Jesus.

In college, the University of Tennessee grad studied art with a focus in oil abstract painting. It was during her undergrad years that she met her husband, Matt. They became best friends and married in 2009. Nine years later, they have four cats together, which Kristin loves with just about the same fervor as she does people – and she really loves people.

Within a year of exchanging vows, Matt’s job in the Navy led the young couple to Virginia Beach for two years, where they began the adventure of building a life of their own before moving to Annapolis.

For several years, Kristin worked at a small church doing administrative work and working with the youth. She admits she struggled to view her role as ministry, though God ultimately changed her heart, telling her, “You’re actually doing ministry; you’re not just a secretary.”

In winter 2017 God led Kristin and Matt to Bay Area. Kristin took a few months to refill her cup after having poured out in ministry for several years, but when she saw a job posting to join Bay Area’s Children’s Ministry (CM) team in summer 2017 she knew her break was over.

In September Kristin joined Bay Area’s staff as program coordinator; today she serves as the assistant director of Children’s Ministry. Her vibrant, friendly personality lends itself well to the role, in which Kristin helps champion the CM vision and strategy, welcomes families on Sundays, supports events and manages some of her fellow CM staff.

She’s grateful for a job in which she can show people Jesus’ love through her speech and actions – especially the parents of the roughly 400-500 kids who attend the Annapolis campus each week. “That’s my favorite part of the job – on a Sunday morning, I love getting to introduce a new family to Bay Area, letting them know number one, this is where your kids will be and they’re going to have an absolute blast; number two, let me show you where you’re going; and number three, here’s where the coffee is,” Kristin explained.

“I think God wants me to be a light to the kids and a happy person that they can trust,” she added, noting that she loves seeing the kids each week and knowing that what her team of staff and volunteers does helps shape their walks with Jesus. “We’re setting them up with the Family Map to start this incredible faith journey.”

With people at the top of it, Kristin’s list of loves is lengthy and includes cats, cooking, cupcakes, painting, crafts, photography, flowers and spending time with Matt. She loves all animals and considered becoming a vet, though she couldn’t handle the thought of furry friends dying. “I tell myself they’ll all join me in heaven, and we’ll deal with that when I’m in heaven,” the self-proclaimed crazy cat lady said with a laugh.

Though she admits it may sound cheesy, she really loves happiness and kindness. The outflow of that is evident to those who spend any amount of time around her. “My dad always did such a good job of being happy no matter what,” she said, explaining that her penchant for positivity is inspired by her father and the overwhelming love of Jesus.

Whether it’s through a warm smile or a kind word, it’s Kristin’s hope that all who interact with her would know that she cares for them and is willing to walk through life with them regardless of their circumstances. She’s always prepared to minister to others, believing God has equipped her with a friendly face to do just that.