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Called to serve

Kourtnie Zwald feels compelled to give back to the place that raised her.


“I know the people here and this community is near and dear to my heart.”


Last winter, Zwald was looking for a project—one that aligned with her spiritual gifts.


“I wanted to do something in outreach ministry,” Zwald said. “That’s always on my heart. I’m a people person and like to make connections with conversations.”


Zwald approached Living Water Fellowship Co-Lead Pastors Justin and Erin McMahan and asked what the priority outreach project was.


They directed her to Compassion Connect.


The Portland-based organization originated in 2006 when several churches came together to provide free medical care clinics to the surrounding neighborhoods. The idea came after one of the participating church’s medical mission trips to Mexico. It sparked the question: “Why don’t we do this in our own backyard?.” Since then, the concept has been duplicated in numerous communities throughout Oregon (and beyond) with the main Compassion Connect organization providing guidance as well as medical and dental stations for each event.


Zwald was tasked with coordinating the inaugural Compassion Tillamook event.


Compassion Tillamook 2024

“Sixteen people started planning this event a year ago,” Zwald said. “The exact people I needed to delegate to were there to make things happen. Leaders from six different churches, and more not [affiliated] with churches, were our main volunteer base. Several leaders stepped in; I was not alone.”


For the Feb. 25 Compassion Tillamook event, the group was able to recruit volunteer providers in medical, dental, vision, physical therapy, cosmetology, and counseling. Volunteers came from a variety of local and regional healthcare providers.


“Two weeks before the event we didn’t have any dental providers,” Zwald said. “Then, we had five hygienists and three dentists step up to volunteer. I trusted in the process and saw Him work.”


For the venue, Tillamook County Family YMCA and Liberty Elementary School provided gym space.


“Both had no hesitation to help,” Zwald said.


All services were offered to guests on a first come, first serve basis free of charge. Meals and childcare were also provided.


While promoting the event, Zwald said that the most frequently asked questions was: “Do I qualify?” She would emphatically reply that they did: there were no eligibility requirements.

Compassion Tillamook 2024

“Our goal was to be able to reach those who fall through the cracks in the healthcare system,” Zwald said. “Lots of people have full-time jobs with healthcare benefits, but can’t afford to meet their deductible. It was fulfilling a need in our community.”


This year’s event provided 50 dental, 11 vision, 14 medical, eight footcare, and seven physical therapy appointments. Over 30 haircuts were given and over 300 lunches were served.  


“It went AMAZINGLY,” Zwald wrote after the conclusion of the event. “Thank you to all the volunteers, social service leaders, non-profits, churches and the healthcare community for making Compassion year one such an amazing program.


Though the event was free to attendees, it costs the organization roughly $35 per appointment slot for supplies.


The Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation gifted Compassion Tillamook $5,000 towards the event.


“As we look ahead to 2024, the Foundation is committed to nurturing and supporting local programs that align with our long-standing goal of—changing lives by building strong communities,” Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce wrote on their Facebook page. “This particular initiative is more than a donation; it's a promise to invest in the well-being and prosperity of our neighbors, underlining our dedication to fostering a compassionate and cohesive environment for all. Together, we are making a profound difference. ”

Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Justin Aufdermauer and Compassion Tillamook Coordinator Kourtnie Zwald

Coordinating community give back events is not new for Zwald. She spent years helping host the Cause for Paws Tillamook Mutt Strutt which raised money for the Tillamook Animal Shelter in honor of Sondi Greene.


“Many of the skills needed to coordinate that event transferred to Compassion Tillamook,” Zwald said.


The desire to serve her community is something Zwald says is a call on her life, and planning for Compassion Tillamook 2025 is already in the works.


“I grew up in church, but dedicated myself to the Lord in 2018. I’m actually walking with the Holy Spirit now. It’s a new walk in life,” she said.


Zwald is a graduate of Tillamook High School and is married to her high school (or more like preschool) sweetheart Nick Zwald.


“We dated in junior high school, reconnected in high school, and then married in 2012,” Zwald said. “We’ve crossed the point in time where we’ve been together for the majority of our lives.”


Together the couple has two daughters ages eight and four.


“After my second daughter, I had this feeling like I needed something for myself again. But, something where I could still prioritize my stay-at-home role,” she said.


This coming September, Zwald will celebrate three years as a real estate agent for Decker Real Estate in Tillamook.


“I love the small town feel that when you walk into a store you know people,” Zwald said. “And I enjoy supporting people in finding their homes.”


For more information on how to get involved with Compassion Tillamook or to donate, visit their website.


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