Volunteer Spotlight: From the Kitchen

“I am in a sacred place, where the Lord wants me to be. It’s powerful. Humbling.”

These words are from Scott, a volunteer who serves as a cook at the Restoration House once a week. In a recent interview with our marketing staff, Scott shared with us about his volunteer experience at UGM.

What led you to consider volunteering with UGM?

“For years, I frequently drove over Salem’s Center Street Bridge from Monmouth on my way to Portland.  The UGM sign faced me as I descended the bridge, and I often wondered if I should volunteer at the mission.  But I never felt compelled, so year after year, bridge crossing after bridge crossing, I drove by the mission with unresolved thoughts of service.

Then one day as I drove past the mission, the Lord placed a sense of service on my heart, and I felt compelled to volunteer.  I immediately stopped by the UGM office, met with the volunteer coordinator and told her my desire to serve.  A few weeks later, I started as a once-a-week cook at the Restoration House and have eagerly served in the position since August of 2014.”

What is your background? Is there a life experience that prepared you to volunteer in this capacity?

“If the volunteer position required experience in working with and cooking for 40 men in a transition home, I wouldn’t have applied.  My resume would have been blank, except for the fact that I love to cook.  (Professionally, I work as a fisheries biologist for the US Forest Service, have done so for 25 years. That’s my resume.)  In this case, however, the Lord knew that I could cook and was willing to follow Him.  Now that I look back, that’s all the preparation I needed.”

What does a typical volunteer day look like?

“I come in once a week around 3 in the afternoon, prepare the food, and serve meals around 6. Dinner is served buffet style, so there is usually a line in the kitchen, sometimes quite long when the house is fully occupied.”

“The food brings the residents together, “Scott continues, “So dinnertime is usually jovial, talkative. I eat and talk with the guys, then clean the kitchen and leave for home at 7:30.”

Do you have any great story or a situation that has impacted you greatly since you started volunteering?

Scott paused before answering. “One afternoon a resident thanked me for making dinner every Thursday night. He continued to say that nobody cared for him when he was a kid, nobody cared for him in prison, and it meant so much to him that someone from the outside—pointing at me—showed that they cared. I had no idea that a few hours each week could impact someone so much.”

What is something you think the general public should know about UGM?

“God’s hand is at work at the UGM. He pulled me and so many others into the UGM to serve those in need. It’s a shining example, for all to see, that the Holy Spirit is at work in Salem.”

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering with UGM?

“Pray and ask God for guidance. When you get an answer—which may take a few minutes, days or even years—that’s all you need to press forward; that’s all you may need on your resume to volunteer at the UGM.”

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