First-Time Volunteer Blessed to Serve Disaster Victims

March 9, 2021 • United States

Alissa Kehr and the Samaritan’s Purse team come alongside homeowners after a devastating ice storm in central Oregon.

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Alissa Kehr has been eager to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse ever since her parents got involved a few years ago, and she saw how the experience blessed their lives. Yet, the hectic, intense schedule of a pediatric ICU nurse doesn’t offer a lot of extra free time.

Alissa Kehr is an ICU nurse at a children's hospital in Portland.

Alissa Kehr is an ICU nurse at a children’s hospital in Portland.

When Alissa found out that Samaritan’s Purse was responding to a historic ice storm only an hour from her home in Portland, Oregon, she decided to use her upcoming time off and join our volunteer teams. Her parents, Linda and Rich, also drove from their home in Idaho to help with the disaster cleanup.

The ice storm toppled trees throughout Marion and Clackamas counties and left many families without electricity. Alissa and our other volunteers are working hard in Jesus’ Name to clear downed trees and yard debris and to remove damaged belongings from flooded homes.

“My heart for my whole life has been to serve people; that’s part of the reason I became a nurse,” Alissa said. “I love that Samaritan’s Purse has Christ as the center of who they are.”

Alissa was inspired to serve on a Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief response because her parents’ involvement has proven to be lifechanging.

“They come back from these trips saying that this is how they love to meet people,” Alissa said. “You make bonds with people because you’re working side-by-side. They’ve made lifelong relationships. Now, this is their community.”

Bringing Hope to the Darkness

Alissa came to help homeowners affected by the ice storm in order to bring hope and encouragement to those struggling to make it through a difficult situation. She said that people desperately need hope—especially as the COVID-19 crisis has continued.

“I’ve seen this past year the amount of need from people. They are at the end of themselves and they’ve lost hope for the future.”

The Kehr family volunteered together for the first time.

The Kehr family volunteered together for the first time.

Alissa and our volunteers are demonstrating God’s love in areas hard-hit by disaster and where neighbors are looking for a light in the middle of all the darkness.

“Volunteering is an awesome opportunity to get out and to be in community, which is at the core of what people need right now,” Alissa said. “They need to see face-to-face that people still care—that people still have compassion.”

Although laboring to relieve physical burdens is important, what’s even more urgent to Alissa is that people have an opportunity to know the eternal hope of Jesus Christ. “To come volunteer with an organization that proclaims the goodness of the Gospel and brings that to people is phenomenal.”

A Godly Example

Linda and Rich Kehr were thrilled to have their daughter join them on the volunteer team. The couple first volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse on a rebuild project in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

The Kehrs enjoyed serving people in need.

The Kehrs enjoyed serving people in need.

“You think you’re going to go and bless someone, but it always works the other way,” Linda said. “We are so blessed.”

The Kehrs have served on rebuild efforts in Barbuda, the Bahamas, and North Carolina. Last year they helped with cleanup following the devastating floods in Pendleton, Oregon.

The couple enjoys trying different tasks when they volunteer, and one time our staff taught Linda how to build a staircase. “Every time you learn something new,” she said.

Linda and Rich continue to devote time to volunteering because they have seen firsthand how lives change. On one occasion, a homeowner began to cry even before the team started work at her home. As the Kehrs and other volunteers introduced themselves to the homeowner, and the woman realized that people had come from all over the country to help her, she was overwhelmed with gratitude.

“The impact of being the hands and feet of Jesus—that’s what touches us,” Linda said. “People have no hope, and then the orange shirts show up.”

Go to SPVolunteer.org to find out more about volunteering opportunities with Samaritan’s Purse North American Ministries.

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U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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