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‘Nurturing with food,’ how one volunteer loves Shepherd’s Door


It was a serendipitous visit. Stephanie Whittle came to Shepherd’s Door to donate a guitar. Little did she know that day would be the beginning of many visits.

“I ended up here. I dropped off the guitar and I just stayed,” she said with a smile.

“I fell in love with it.”

Stephanie’s forte is the kitchen. “At that time I was looking for some volunteer work,” she said. Shepherd’s Door was the perfect fit. Stephanie regularly cooks lunch and bakes goodies for the women, children and staff on site.

“I’m mom in the kitchen, I like to bake, I like to nurture with food.” Stephanie’s cooking helps Shepherd’s Door feel more like home.

The people are what she loves best about being there. “I’ve formed very good friendships,” she said.

Stephanie cooks for about 60 people when she is at Shepherd's Door.

Stephanie cooks for about 60 people when she is at Shepherd’s Door.

“Stephanie and I connected from the moment that she walked through the doors. She has become a very good friend of mine” said Barbara Service, Kitchen Coordinator at Shepherd’s Door, “I work with her at a soup kitchen once a month and we do things outside of Shepherds Door. I’m so blessed and so thankful to have her here.”

“I’ve been here long enough now that I’ve seen a whole group of people from the beginning ‘til when they graduated, and the transition is just amazing,” said Stephanie. “I’ve gotten to be really good friends with so many of them. They are the most beautiful people. They come in broken and they leave whole. It’s just an amazing thing to see. I see in myself how I wish I could move in here and receive what they have received. It’s wonderful.”

Stephanie has worked professionally in kitchens for the past 10 years and since she makes amazing meals for us regularly at the Mission, we asked her for some cooking tips from the kitchen.

EAT REAL: “My philosophy is that it doesn’t have to be fancy,” she said. Food just needs to be real. “Not canned, not processed, it has to be real; it has to be homemade.”

KEEP AN EYE ON THE TIME: “You have to be aware of your time limit in there and not get too crazy and too wild,” she said. In Stephanie’s case, she is feeding a large crowd and lunch needs to be ready by noon.

BE CREATIVE: She says to also be aware of expenses. “Use what you have and just make do.”

THINK ABOUT WHO YOU ARE FEEDING: Stephanie says, “Mostly, just cook with the people who are going to eat it in mind.”

Thank you Stephanie for keeping us well fed and cared for. We are incredibly blessed.


Volunteering at Portland Rescue Mission is a life-changing experience. What are you passionate about? Gardening? Martial Arts? Crafting? Cooking? Contact us today about how you can join our volunteer team. We want you here. Who knows, one visit might turn into many years. It just might happen to you.