our mission

Shepherd's Hand is a place of HOpe



Shepherd’s Hand was established out of a desire to provide medical care for people in the Flathead Valley who are under served. It was founded on the core belief that all people have value and should be treated with dignity.

The initial phase of starting the free clinic involved building partnerships within the medical community and sharing the vision with the community at large. With $5,000 in our pockets we opened our doors for the first time in October of 1995. We saw 13 people. Within a few months we were turning people away – the need was great.

We quickly learned what a significant problem people with chronic disease have in accessing care and treatment. We learned that the need for dental care and mental health care are significant and largely unmet. We learned, and are still learning, the dance between accountability and grace. We learned that when you get tired and discouraged you keep going-- just like you ask the people you are helping to. We learned that we live in a unique and compassionate community

Since our humble beginning we have grown both in volunteers and services: from 2 health providers to 4 medical providers and 2 dentists each Monday night; from 1 nurse to 5; from 5 non- medical volunteers to 20 each Monday night. We currently utilize the services of over 200 volunteers onsite from throughout the valley. We have also added services: a community meal in 2010 – out of a desire to build community; a wellness program in 2012 – in order to address the need of our chronic patients; and most recently dental services in 2014.


Shepherd’s Hand is a story about faith and volunteerism; about community and compassion. It is about organizations like the Whitefish Community Foundation and North Valley Hospital working within our community; it is about the donor who gives $25 every month for 19 years; it is about the guy who said a couple of weeks ago ‘thanks for getting in my face awhile back and telling me to stop being so grumpy – I needed that”. It’s about people living life together. Ultimately what we have learned is that we can’t fix everything but we can show up, we can listen and we can care.

Our core values                   

  • We value community and strive to provide consistent, quality care in a safe and loving environment.

  • We value the whole person and are committed to caring for each person based on their physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs.

  • We value a hospitable and stimulating environment where volunteers can grow as they serve.

  • We value professionalism.

  • We value each person’s right to privacy and are committed to confidentiality.


“I was looking for ways to volunteer that would benefit less fortunate people. I have so many blessings in my life and I have concern for those who don’t. This clinic serves these people and I have found it a very rewarding and useful experience. I look at some of these families and situations of people with out health care and I know I would be afraid everyday. Many of them are so brave.”
— Shepherd's Hand Free Clinic Volunteer



  • The free clinic serves people who cannot access health care, who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and do not qualify for other services. The Community Meal is open to the public.

  • Over 200 professional medical, dental and community volunteers staff the clinic, wellness program and community meal.

  • SH-Free Clinic was established in 1995 as an outreach ministry of Christ Lutheran Church. Shepherd’s Hand became incorporated as a non-profit and tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization in 2010.

  • SH-Community Meal was added in 2010 as an additional way to reach out to our community.

  • The Free Clinic added dental services in January, 2014.

  • Shepherd’s Hand is supported 100% by private dollars.


2019 board OF DIRECTORS

Zach Bernheim

Liz Calkins, R.N.

Dan Chisholm, Treasurer

Maura Fields, Secretary

Mary Sterhan

Reed Thompson, D.D.S.

Shawn Watts, President