Volunteering doesn’t have to be a solo mission. As we sat down with Heather Salvesen, who is this month’s volunteer spotlight, she shared that her work with Shepherd’s House Ministries has been a great way not only to serve but also to connect with family and friends. Shared experiences with family, friend groups or her women’s Bible study group all have been a catalyst for doing important, life changing things together.
” Volunteering has expanded my capacity to love people and connect with others. To feel that feeling of doing good, appreciate that and then to lean in and truly embrace it.”
How did you get involved with SHM?
Being born and raised here in Bend, I have been able to see firsthand how it has grown and as a community grows, so does its needs. My whole family is very passionate about making Central Oregon livable for EVERYONE – that anyone who wants to call this great place home can do it in a safe way. As a community, we have grown so fast and have so many new permanent residents that often those in need are forgotten.
Why do you think it is so important that as a community we make sure to serve this portion of the community that has been forgotten?
Our responsibility as residents is to partner with organizations like Shepherd’s House or one of the many other resource organizations here in Bend to get connected and help. Writing a check is easy, and of course, financial support is always needed to help these organizations function. It is equally as important to roll up your sleeves and help address the physical and spiritual needs of others – to serve the whole person, their spirit. That is when the transformation of not only the person in need but of those serving them as well actually happens.
What do you mean by transformation?
Well, typically someone sees a homeless person and they think, “Why don’t they get a job? Why should I help them if they aren’t going to help themselves?” A better question to ask is, how did they find themselves here? How did they grow up? What happened to them along their path of life? Who raised them? Do they have a family or support system? When we pause to ask questions and get to know the person, we can figure out how to serve their needs as a person.
When we stop analyzing it or making judgments and just love them where they are rather than where we think they should be – that is when they start to trust and make a connection. It is through these connections that we all start to change. I can see the change in my own life just from volunteering. Through service, we all transform, not just those we are serving, because change also happens within ourselves.
Recently, you volunteered for the Meal Train to serve dinner at the shelter. What was that experience like for you?
It was such a fun experience. Six women from my bible study group got together. We shopped together, cooked the meal at home, and then transported it to the shelter and served it. It was a wonderful experience to get to know the guest and just talk to them. It was also a bonding experience for all of us. It created a memory for us and the gratitude we felt for our relationships with each other and the blessings in our lives created a desire to do more.
What would you share with anyone considering volunteering?
It is an invitation to be invested in the health of our own city. I am inviting us all to be good neighbors. It is an all-hands-on-deck situation. We need to motivate each other to be curious about what can we do and how can we serve. Together, and only together, is how can help each other.