This month, we had a chance to catch up with Store to Door volunteer-extraordinaire Kris McDowell. Kris has been a volunteer order taker since 2014, and is a member of our LoVE league! Kris also serves as Owner and Editor of The Southeast Examiner, in which Store to Door has been honored to appear several times. Kris has stepped up to help volunteer shop regularly during the pandemic; we admire her commitment to our work, and her deep connection with the homebound clients she serves regularly!
Q: How did you first get involved with Store to Door?
A: I had volunteered for both Meals on Wheels and Store to Door (an unrelated agency doing the same work) in Minnesota. After we moved to Portland I was looking for volunteer opportunities but didn’t feel comfortable enough in my new home to drive around making Meals on Wheels deliveries. But I was thrilled to find Store to Door here! Having been a shopper in MN I jumped easily into that role here. When my schedule changed and I was no longer available to shop, I learned about and signed up to be an order taker. In the last year, my schedule has become more flexible again so in addition to my weekly order taking calls, I’m often able to show up to shop at Hollywood.
Q: What has been one of your favorite experience?
A: I truly enjoy connecting with “my ladies” every week to take their orders (I did have one gentleman a few years ago but it’s usually been a group of women). I worry when I can’t get ahold of one of them from time to time and think about those that have rotated off my list. In my mind they fall somewhere between mom, aunt and grandma. At least one of my current ladies I believe has been on my call list the entire time I’ve been an order taker. I feel like I know her although I’ve never met her. And I’ve lost a couple – had them die – which is sad but it happens and I take comfort in knowing that I did what I could to keep them in the familiar surroundings of their home as long as possible.
That’s probably a broader answer than you want so here is a specific one. One of my ladies has had health difficulties. I believe it was about this time last year that I found out she wouldn’t be ordering from us for at least six weeks (and I think it may have ended up being two or three months) as her doctor put her on a liquid-only diet. Trish encouraged me to continue to call her every week and leave her a message, which I did. When she was finally able to order with us again she let me know how much each of those messages meant to her. She said that she saved them and listened to them repeatedly. She also routinely tells me when she’s done placing her order how thankful she is for the service we (as a whole organization) provide.
Q: What do you enjoy most about volunteering with Store to Door?
A: Knowing that I’m helping people stay in their homes. As I age and my relatives age, I understand more and more how being able to stay in one’s home is important to people and that can impact their ability to weather aging and disease better.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
A: Besides work (owner/publisher of the community newspaper The Southeast Examiner), you can find me enjoying the vast array of craft beer we have access to here in Portland, usually at The BeerMongers on SE Division. Like the community that supports my paper and the community that is Store to Door, there is a craft beer community and a community…no, more of a family…at The BeerMongers.
Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?
A: There isn’t much surprising about me, I’m a creature of habit and comfort. But back when I was younger I used to break and train horses. I wouldn’t trade that experience as it is part of the meandering path that has brought me to where I am today but I am thankful that I’m no longer putting my body on the line. These days I’m happy when I haven’t done something silly like tweaking my knee picking up after one of my two rescued dogs.
Q: Where is your favorite place to visit in the Pacific Northwest?
A: I am a homebody and my favorite place really is my kitchen (I love to cook and feed pepole). But places not in my home that I love the most are Astoria and Lost Lake Resort on Mt. Hood. Astoria is a great beer destination that we usually visit at least once or twice a year, always staying at the same B&B – Rose River Inn. We consider the owners to be our friends and are looking forward to seeing them again, hoping they have survived the lack of tourist business. Lost Lake is usually the destination of a large group camping trip. Not this year but hopefully we’ll return again next year. The view of Mt. Hood beyond the lake is one of my favorite vistas and I have a tattoo that was inspired by it.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this fall?
A: Hopefully seeing friends more but mostly staying the course. COVID precautions and doing when I can to support the businesses I most desperately want to see make it through this tough stretch. We’ve already seen closures and while that is unfortunate, I’ll do my best to spend my money with those I can’t imagine shutting down and being gone forever.