Compassion Connect: We’re so excited to have you on the team as Bridal Shop Manager, Kendra. What drew you to Compassion Connect? What is it about the mission that strikes your passion?
Kendra Vollstedt: The heartbeat of this organization to both unite the Church, as well as proclaim justice for the sake of the Lord in the local community astounded me. In regards to Adorned in Grace, I have a huge desire to see women’s identity be fully restored to their Maker, which I have now personally witnessed each and every day in the shop.
Women don’t just come for the cause, they come to champion other women in knowing their full value in Christ. Their impact then reaches far beyond the shop’s walls to aid other women in being fully removed from the trafficking system once and for all. It is a ripple effect, and one that I am beyond blessed to be a part of.
CC: Now for a more personal question. Who is your hero?
KV: My heroes are my parents. My mom has taught me the power that comes from knowing your worth in Christ. When I was in high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lost every ounce of the worldly definition of her femininity, and yet I’ve never witnessed someone so beautiful through and through. Her heart is pure gold. She journeyed through treatment with grace and elegance, giving full glory to God every step of the way. After being in remission, she suffered another attack of cancer years later. Once again, she pioneered her battle with Christ first, and He was victorious.
My dad fought alongside her every step of the way, showing me what a man of God looks like on a daily basis. He managed to uphold our family in the time of crisis with complete strength, while supporting her with immeasurable humility. My parents have placed a standard of excellence in my life that is only achievable with God at the forefront, and I couldn’t be more thankful for them!
CC: What is your favorite “God moment” from your life?
KV: My favorite God moment from my life is from when I was a river guide. One day on the river, a Search and Rescue Team had asked us to end our trip early that day. When we got to the pick-up location, they shared with us that four boys had gone for a swim above one of the rapids without life jackets on. Only three of the boys managed to make it out. As we sat there, I prayed that Jesus would allow me to help, however He needed. In my mind, I had overly romanticized the idea that I would simply look to the bank of the river and he would be there, huffing and puffing from making it out alive. That didn’t exactly happen. A week later, I was guiding a trip with seventh grade girls in my boat. We wanted someone to water fight, so we turned our back of the boat to the shore and started to paddle.
One of the girls was horrified and pointed to the body of the boy laying face up in the water. Jesus covered my boat in complete grace. Not one of my girls screamed, or drew attention to the boy and we managed to let all of the other boats pass until I could flag down my lead boat and get help. The parents were relieved to finally have an answer, and God ended up using me in a way I never though possible.
When we got out to chat as a boat, my girls weren’t afraid. They shared that they were just glad that it was them that found him. I was shocked! We then spent the next stretch of river sharing about why it is so important to know Jesus. They agreed that God protected us in that moment, and not one of them had another thought about what they witnessed that day. I also learned the power of prayer, and that when you ask God to be used, He delivers!
CC: Tell us a little about your family?
KV: My family is ridiculous! Humor is the core to our family dynamic. I adore them. I was raised in the church, and my parents were super involved every Sunday. My mom prepped the coffee, and my dad was an elder. They taught me to love Jesus from a young age, but never forced faith upon me.
My mom has a knack for making every holiday memorable. She also sends the best care packages of anyone I know, and keeps her own personal stash of “Mom Goods,” like “Home Goods” for when we need toothpaste, razors, or our favorite candles!
My dad is a manly man. He fishes, golfs, and smokes turkey like a champ! My sister is another one of my heroes. She leads with her honesty, and has taken the marketing world by storm! She also has a passion for coffee, which we both get from our mom. It has been bred into us that we must have a latte in hand for any life event, including grocery shopping and church! My family is honestly one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.
My husband is an incredible man to partner in life, and I couldn’t’ be more thankful for him! He is a daily reminder that Jesus overcomes even the hardest of life circumstances. Coming from a past of tragedy and heartbreak, my husband has sought to conquer every upset in his life by placing Christ first. He should really be given an award for putting up with my daily crazy with incredible grace and understanding!
In fact, he was the primary reason that this position was even a possibility for me to pursue, in supporting me as we stepped out in faith by leaving my former position with nothing lined up. I admire and adore his sister’s perseverance as well , as they both now chase after their passions with complete devotion. While he is busy learning the ins and outs of woodworking in an apprenticeship in Portland, she is out adventuring through the world, and pouring her efforts into teaching others about stewardship and sustainability of our resources. I couldn’t be more proud!
CC: What are your hobbies and/or special talents?
KV: I love to love things! I’m not kidding. I have the best talent for becoming overly passionate about something for short spans of time and then changing my mind, only when it really comes to working out though. I own practically every workout dvd from spandex to lady abs. I also have boxing gloves and have been a member of four different gyms in the last year, six if you count trial periods! I like to think of it as being overly optimistic and endearing.
I love coffee and can always manage to justify it at any point in the day, even bedtime. I like to pretend that I’m more Portland than I really am by caring about the beans, roast, and flavor pairings, but to be perfectly honest I’ll take a Starbucks any day.
I am also crazy for card shopping. I could spend hours in the card aisle of Target, as well as small boutiques like Paper Source. There is just something about having the perfect card for the current situation that makes me ecstatic!
CC: What song would you rock on karaoke night?
KV: “Shoop” by Salt-N-Peppa.
CC: What are you most excited to do in your new role now that you’ve been hired?
KV: I am most excited to see God use my heart for women’s ministry in this role. I’ve never even considered this being an outlet to partner women, but I’ve found that the bridal boutique is the perfect place to meet women where they are at in life. I’ve already had the privilege of hearing stories of both the dresses and brides, and moms of brides.
It is inspiring and invigorating to see them overcome so much in their lives, and to partner them in such a cherished celebration. Honestly, some of my job is like a Hallmark movie, where you get to see “the moment” that a bride finds her perfect fit, and there is nothing sweeter than witnessing it alongside them!
I also am eager to get the word out about our cause. I wish I had known of our store when I was dress shopping for my special day. I feel like it is so easy to get other people on board for what we do, it just starts with a simple conversation! I love that I get to share the vision every time someone asks me about my job!