Joanne Jackson spreading the joy of gardening at Shepherd’s Door

Joanne Jackson smiles as she works on the community garden at Shepherd's Door.

Joanne Jackson smiles as she works in the community garden at Shepherd’s Door.

For 38 years, Joanne Jackson spent her working hours as an Infection Prevention Nurse at Providence Portland.“It was a very enjoyable job, but it started to become too much for me to cope with,” Joanne said. It was time to retire.

Fortunately for Portland Rescue Mission’s New Life Ministry at Shepherd’s Door, Joanne wasn’t about to “sit and do nothing.” She invested herself into something that would utilize some of her other talents. Joanne decided to share her insight and expertise about community gardening with the women on the “yard crew” of Shepherd’s Door.

“This place is very special,” Joanne said. “My Bible study group is always praying for these women. We have a network of people who really help to support this effort.”

Joanne heads up the Ramblin’ Rows Garden Club, which is part of the Multnomah District of the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs. Her club has helped Shepherd’s Door with numerous projects over the years. These things have included everything from putting in planters along with tulips and daffodils, to securing grants for maintaining the grounds, to getting raspberries donated and so much more. Joanne’s church, First Orthodox Presbyterian, also hosts a pizza night once a month at Shepherd’s Door.

“It’s been so enjoyable,” Joanne said. “By getting the opportunity to work with the ladies on special projects, I’m able to get acquainted with them more and hear their stories.

“The whole concept of working with these ladies on growing things and supporting them is just wonderful.”

Holly Hummel, a longtime employee of Portland Rescue Mission, recalls the first time she met Joanne. She knew right away that Joanne was a special lady.

Shepherd's Door tends to the community garden regularly.

The community garden is well-loved at Shepherd’s Door.

“When I first saw Joanne, she was at the corner of Shepherd’s Door, all by herself, pulling weeds. And when I asked her what she was doing, she told me she saw a need and decided to go ahead and just start helping,” Holly said. “Since then, she’s led many groups with helping Shepherd’s Door. … She’s helped keep our pots full of flowers. She trains the women by working closely with them in the garden. She goes and gets seeds. She’s the most wonderful, loving and sweet soul.”

Joanne is also very busy. And chances are that if you swing by Shepherd’s Door at some point in the week ahead, you will see her hard at work and pouring her skills, talents and motherly wisdom into her second “career.” Retirement can wait.

***In the spirit of gardening, you too can support Portland Rescue Mission simply by purchasing $40 of garden supplies, plants, tools and more from Fox12 Daily Deals and Dennis’ 7 Dees for only $20. Supplies are limited.***