Marlie, part of the Smiling Trinity volunteers at UGM of Salem

Marlie was out of her comfort zone on her first day as a volunteer at UGM. In fact, she was “deer-in-the-headlights nervous. I was afraid I’d do or say the wrong thing or slow the serving line down.” She admits that she did all of those things at first but she kept coming back because she wanted to be “the hands and heart of Jesus to those in need.”

There was another, more unusual, reason Marlie wanted to serve: “I was afraid of the homeless and of my own judgments, all of which were in direct conflict with my faith,” she tells us. “I’ve learned that fear melts whenever I make eye contact with someone walking a different path.”

Marlie, UGM of Salem Volunteer

Marlie didn’t know anyone when she arrived at UGM, but today she says, “The co-workers, the men in the program, the people who visit for lunch — we all share a oneness.” More than anything, Marlie says, “It’s impossible to quantify the genuine kindness, appreciation and wisdom freely offered from those on the receiving end of a meal. It turns out that I’m the one receiving the hands and heart of Jesus every week. I’m the one who’s blessed.”

If you’ve ever considered serving at UGM, Marlie urges you to put aside your fears and “just do it!”

Although COVID-19 regulations have affected our volunteer positions, there are still opportunities to change the face of homelessness. Contact Hannah for information about volunteering at 503.967.6388 or

You can impact their story. Give today.

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