When God Moved
Tillamook County, located along the North Oregon coast, incorporates a mixture of rugged scenery, historic industry and all-year travel populated by 25,000 full-time residents and over 150,000 on busy weekends. The 2022 Tillamook County Community Health Needs Assessment to be published late this fall presents that housing availability is severely limited, with up to 30% of housing stock only available as short-term rentals in this highly sought-after part of the state. Only 60 miles of mountain road separates the Portland metro area from the coast.
This limitation of affordable housing is a leading barrier to successfully recruiting staff at Adventist Health Tillamook. In this personal story, Shannon Hoff, a registered nurse and clinical educator at Adventist Health Tillamook, shares her journey moving to the Oregon Coast with no housing in place but armed with a blind faith that her calling to healthcare, community, and God would not let her down.
As a previous resident of the Oregon coast, I felt called to return and serve after living away in an Oregon metro area. This feeling left us unsettled and frustrated longing to return to rainbows, eagles and the sea. For as long as I can remember, I felt called back to the ocean and the salty air to soothe my pain. In 2020 I was hurting, as many were and still are, and needed to find my way back home.
With my husband a schoolteacher and I a nurse, getting employment in Tillamook would not be problematic. The demand is always high for this work in a small community with a high turnover like Tillamook, where long winters of heavy rain are not an excellent fit for everyone. The difficulty of our situation ended up being something as essential as housing. While we were confident our calling was in Tillamook, but the availability of housing to rent or own was drowning our ambition to make a move.
Despite that uncertainty, we boldly decided to resign from my job in Salem as a hospice facility executive director. We put our house on the market before we reconciled where we would work and, more importantly, live. Being acutely aware that we were meant to live in Tillamook, I went to Facebook for housing answers. The Tillamook Community Page, a local Facebook group, offers an ongoing discussion about local housing, and in it I simply typed, “Nurse and schoolteacher moving to the area. Is anyone thinking about putting their house on the market?" I prayed over those words on the screen as they filtered into many Tillamook County homes. We were miraculously contacted by three people. We hastily arranged to see these homes. To our amazement, we found a perfect home that we loved immediately.
The sellers blessed us completely, giving us a reasonable selling price. Aware of the tight housing market and high prices, we were compelled by integrity to tell the sellers we understood they could get more money if the house was placed on the market. They would then experience the bidding war that would drive up their very reasonable and fair price. However, the sellers chose to demonstrate a compassion we will never forget. They told us they wanted a win-win situation, not looking to make a bunch of money, saying, “We just want to enrich Tillamook by selling to people who want to serve this community; this is a win to us.” At that moment, we found the perfect home, for the perfect price, sold by an amazing couple who chose to bless this community over increasing their bank account. At this time in our lives, we were honored to witness two people in the community who chose to Be Love.