DFSO saves people, and it saved Laura Wilmes, too. It was very important for her to get involved with her community as soon as she arrived in Oregon two years ago from Michigan. She wanted to meet people and feel at home as quickly as possible. DFSO did that for her and she has met many wonderful friends.
Laura’s husband is an Oregonian who graciously lived in Michigan for the past 30 years. He was ready to come home; so Laura left her life in Michigan and headed off to the great Northwest. Her husband wanted to try his hobby of organic gardening so he moved a “city girl” to the country of West Linn.
As a volunteer Laura is very proud to be part of DFSO. She loves working with such a dedicated staff and volunteers that are always going above and beyond to help clients. Laura says, “This is exactly the type of volunteering I’ve always wanted to do and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
She began at DFSO as a Personal Shopper but currently works in the Career Center doing welcome appointments. She admires the courage clients show by walking through the doors and feels her role is to make sure they feel welcome and comfortable. Laura thinks it is an honor to listen to their stories and witness a small part of their journey. “For so many DFSO is a new beginning. They share how grateful they are for DFSO and how they didn’t believe anyone would care about them.”
At DFSO there are many special moments for Laura. She will never forget the woman who came in feeling too old, tired, and defeated with little left of her self-esteem. She had not had any new clothes for a very long time and she was caring for her adult daughter. They were headed for life in shelters. The woman was very worried she would never get hired again anywhere. Laura talked to her about the possibilities to start a new and different path. Laura saw her a few weeks later; she had enrolled in Fast Track and was so excited about what she had learned in her classes. The client had an interview and, to her amazement, had gotten the job. She told Laura that getting new clothes from DFSO was the catalyst to a new life. The client had also shared with her daughter the information that she had learned at DFSO and now her daughter was making positive changes in her life, too.
She loves living here and exploring all the new venues and her three adult children moved to Oregon too. Most weekends she paddle boards, hikes, wine tastes, eats out, and gardens. For the past 15 years she worked as an Elementary School Librarian. She enjoyed encouraging a love of reading in a child. She was worried she wouldn’t find anything as fulfilling as that, but at DFSO, she most certainly has!