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Known & Be Known – Volunteer Spotlight

Wes (Volunteer), Volunteering at the Christmas Dinner at the Redmond Center on December 22, 2023

Know and be Known.  


As humans, we yearn to be known. Volunteering alongside Shepherd’s House Ministries, Wes feels appreciated and known. That same feeling is mutual for countless others who may not always feel valued as individuals due to their circumstances in our society. “When I’m walking down the street, and I encounter someone [who appears to lack resources], I turn towards them, show them I see them, and offer my name and ask theirs in return.” Accompanied by a warm smile and friendly deminer, showcasing that they matter, are worthy of love, and have love to give, followed by an invitation to the SHM Lighthouse Navigation Center that offers low-barrier services, including a safe place with a meal, community, and connection.  


In the past, Wes worked with Union Gospel Mission in Seattle, going out at night and helping provide basic needs for individuals or groups living under bridges or freeways. When he moved to Bend at the beginning of the COVID lockdowns, he knew his options for volunteering were extremely limited. Constantly following local news and researching online, Wes was looking for ways he could get involved with SHM. Once the opportunity became available, he volunteered to ride a shotgun with the Project SHARE van (Mobile Outreach) without hesitation, reuniting his service with those living in camps, distributing basic needs, and building meaningful connections. Through Project SHARE, Wes learned the value of Grace and what it meant to “live out Grace.” It resonated with his belief that we all need to know others and be known; our current circumstances don’t change that.


When the Navigation Center opened in 2022 (day-use services inside the Lighthouse that include case management), Wes saw the opportunity to park himself down and show people they are deeply known and loved. From opening day and almost every Tuesday since then, you will find Wes sitting down, building on or building new connections with everyone who enters the Navigation Center, valuing close relationships, knowing each person’s name and vice versa. At the drop of a hat, Wes can list six new names he learned last Tuesday and the humanity behind their story of circumstance. 


Three things keep Wes returning to volunteer: first, he enjoys the SHM staff, discovering new things, and learning alongside them. The second and third contradict each other until you spend time in a fast-paced, ever-changing ministry. He loves that he can always do something new when volunteering with SHM (for example, riding in the Project SHARE van and being part of the Navigation Center day use facility, engaging with any and everyone), and he enjoys being able to encounter our guests consistently enough to know them. Our guests come and go, but you can bet that when they walk into the Navigation Center on a Tuesday morning, Wes will go out of his way to recognize someone new, greet them with a warm smile, and hold out his hand to make a memorable introduction.