Shepherd of the Hills hires new coordinator

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Heather Hageman of Farmersburg is the newly hired coordinator for Shepherd of the Hills. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Shepherd of the Hills Ministries, located at 100 West Hill St., in St. Olaf, is a conference and cooperative ministry effort of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) congregations in the Northeast Iowa Synod. 

The non-profit organization has recently hired Heather Hageman as their new coordinator. Heather grew up in Monona, moved to Fort Atkinson – making it her home for 25  years, and returned to the area, relocating to Farmersburg with her husband, David.  

Heather and David have been together for 28 years and have four adult children, and eight grandchildren with another on the way. "All of our children are now adults and have families of their own so we are enjoying quiet evenings on the porch," she shared. "Our play time is mainly with our dogs, Bella and Mator. I enjoy watching football and call the Green Bay Packers my favorite team – although I watch all teams."

Assistance programs

Heather's duties include assisting referred clients with clothing needs, financial crisis funding, and resources for additional services in Clayton County. "The clothing center makes up most of my day," she noted. "I accept, sort and display newly donated items.  In time, I will be working with the area churches in our conference to join together, support and strengthen the ministry of our congregations and organizations."

Heather's strong desire to become more involved in her community and truly make a difference in people’s lives led her to Shepherd of the Hills. "We provide crisis funding for rent or utilities for families from Clayton County and outlying areas who are referred to us," she explained. "Clients referred to the clothing center can shop for clothing and essentials for each member of the household." 

She went on to say, "We are also open to the public for their thrift store shopping needs. Most items are $1 but there are a few specialty priced items as well."

Common misconceptions

Heather sorted out some common misconceptions. "Some people don’t even know we are here," she commented. "We are fully stocked with a wide variety of items that can benefit anyone. Everyone can shop here. Referred clients get some items at no cost but all items are available to everyone – referred or not."

  Shepherd of the Hills is open for business and taking donations. Space is limited so all donations need to be scheduled. Outside drop-offs are not allowed. "We do need to control the flow as we have limited space for storage," says Heather. "I am very accommodating so we can schedule a time that works for everyone." She added. "Another misconception is that we are the Clayton County Food Pantry.  We are two separate entities," she stressed. "The Food Pantry is located downstairs in our building. We do work together from time to time, but we are not one in the same."

Local support

Twenty-four area churches are part of Shepherd of the Hills conference. "We receive support from many churches in the area, not just from our conference," she proudly shared. "All churches are very generous and do what they can to see that we can help as many people as possible. Even if it is just spreading the mission's word to collect items for the clothing center or monetary donations, all are welcome and very much appreciated."

Items accepted

Shepherd of the Hills accepts all gently used seasonal clothing, shoes, and accessories for men, women, teens and children; housewares, including pots, pans, kitchen towels, bath towels, small kitchen gadgets, silverware, baking dishes etc. "People love to read so I would like to expand on the book selections as well," she said. 

Additional fund drives

The non-profit mission holds additional fund drives throughout the year. "I am currently getting ready for our Back to School event for Clayton County referred students," she told The Press. "This program provides over 180-plus students with most of the general school supplies our schools require. Most of the supplies are donated from area churches, businesses, individuals and organizations. All participants must have a referral to utilize this project."

Historically a Crisis Fundraiser is held each fall. "COVID-19 recommendations have changed how we were able to host our annual hog roast the past two years," she noted. "We are hoping to move forward with the event that is generally held the first Sunday in October. The funds generated help support the Crisis Fund throughout the year."

Christmas Just 4 Kids is another important project Shepherd of the Hills organizes. "Christmas Just 4 Kids serves over 400 children every year providing new toys and gifts to every referred child. This is a special project that is greatly credited to the generous donors near and far," she proudly shared. "We are so thankful to everyone that supports the mission and our communities. We are so blessed to be here making a difference in so many people’s lives," she concluded with a smile. 

Shepherd of the Hills is open Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. - noon and 1 - 4 p.m. 

For additional information, or to set up a donation drop-off, call 563-783-2409.

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