Meet Jillian Devine, UGM LIFE Recovery Counselor

Posted by Union Gospel Mission Mar 3, 2014 3:02:00 PM

An Interview with Jillian DevineJillian-Devine_sm

Jillian Devine started her tenure with UGM in Women's Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall back in 2004 and is now the lead counselor at the UGM Center for Women & Children in Coeur d'Alene.

Center Director JoAnn Zajicek praised Jillian's contribution: "Jillian is an excellent counselor and has been a tremendous asset in getting the Center up and running. Most of the team were new when we opened, and Jillian’s lengthy tenure of experience provided us with wisdom and insight into the ministry's grace culture.  She truly exemplifies UGM's commitment to holding women accountable and directing them toward Christ-likeness." 

Jillian Devine portraitTell us a little about your background. Where do you come from?

I was born and raised in good ol’ Spokane, WA. I only moved from there to be a part of UGM expanding to Coeur d’Alene. My parents and brother are still in Spokane. I went to Shadle Park High School and then to Eastern Washington University for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Name someone you look up to as an example and explain why.

There have been so many staff from UGM over the years who have helped me come to know Jesus in a way that I had never imagined.

The person who comes to mind right now is my mother-in-law, Melody. I know her testimony and watch the woman she is today. I am so in awe of her love for the Lord and how much she trusts Him no matter what. I see how she loves her husband, her adult children and almost 20 grandchildren, and I know that I want to love like she does. 

How did you end up at UGM?

In 2002, I had a faculty supervisor at Eastern Washington University who knew I was a Christian and that I needed an internship. She got me in touch with Anna Ogden Hall. I had just recently left my job at Nordstrom and ended up spending my whole Christmas break helping to get gifts ready for Christmas. I fell in love immediately with the residents and staff.

What does a “typical” workday look like?

There is not a real “typical” day, which is probably why I have stayed around as long as I have.

We tend to start our day with a morning meeting with staff, residents and volunteers to share with one another devotionals, prayer requests and opportunities for growth. Then I will connect with my team to see what needs to happen for the day.

I oversee the counseling department at CWC, so often we will discuss how to handle certain situations and how I can help in the process. Then I have my own caseload which I see on a weekly basis.  I also facilitate two counseling groups and work with Kootenai County Jail on a monthly basis to provide a safe place for their women who are looking for real change.

On Tuesdays, I teach a two-hour training for any volunteer who is wanting to learn how to serve our population better. We cover everything from counseling from a biblical perspective to how we are managing our own lives. It’s a great group of volunteers who are so committed to what we do here.

What is something people may never guess is a part of your normal workday?

We make commitments as staff to maintain a healthy balance. This for me includes exercise. Since CWC has a wonderful gym we will take some meetings or clients out to the gym. I have had some of the best counseling sessions on the elliptical. It is amazing how someone will have a breakthrough when their body is in motion.

What do you want people to know about what you do?

One thing I know for sure is that this job is a calling. There are days where I feel like I have no idea what I am doing, but the Lord ALWAYS shows up in an amazing way. We frequently quote this truism around here: “God does not call the qualified; He qualifies those He has called.”

Jillian counseling session

The second is that these women are AMAZING, and they work so diligently on their life recovery. I have such a tremendous respect for their stories and an awe of what they are willing to give up for a new life.

The last thing I want people to know is that we are all just a few poor choices from being in the shoes of the men and women at UGM. I get pretty passionate about those who think otherwise.

What parts of your personality come in handy in your job?

  • HUMOR! You have to have a sense of humor to work in this ministry.
  • Flexibility. You never know what you are going to get.
  • A good understanding of people. Relationships are messy, and they are the source of most people’s struggles.
  • Encouraging. These women have had too many who have told them what they cannot do; I tend to tell them what they can.

What’s your favorite way to spend your time off?

I love spending time with my husband and my puppy (a.k.a. 40-lb. lap dog).

I also enjoy getting away with girlfriends on mini-vacations. It’s amazing how girl-time can fill the soul.

Tell us about one of your most moving experiences at UGM.

There are so many!

Reunification is common at UGM, but it is still something that takes my breath away each time. The most recent time was a gal who had all four of her children taken away. When CPS reunited this family, all 43 of us were waiting in the hallway for the kids to come to their new home. There were many tears, cheers and hugs. There is such a sense of family here.

What is one key word you’d use to describe UGM?


With as many success stories as we have, there are also many that are not. The staff, volunteers and residents choose to press through the hard times. We handle crisis as a family and gain new insights each time we have to face trials.

Jillian hugging woman

Any last thoughts?

UGM has changed my life! In the beginning, I thought I was there to “help” others. Little did I know what the Lord was going to do in my life through His people. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of UGM.





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