Staff Spotlight: Rev. Sarah Trone Garriott

The Rev. Sarah Trone Garriott joined DMARC in August 2017 as the Coordinator of Interfaith Engagement. Sarah works with the diverse faith communities of the greater Des Moines area to support the mission of DMARC, while also creating resources and opportunities to support faith communities in their work. Sarah also partners with The Comparison Project at Drake University in their efforts for interfaith awareness, dialogue, and scholarship.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA working for Northern New Mexico Legal Aid in Gallup, New Mexico, Sarah engaged community and faith leaders around the issue of Domestic Violence. As a hospital chaplain in Philadelphia and Chicago, Sarah supported patients and staff of all religious backgrounds. In parish ministry, first in rural Virginia and later in suburban Des Moines, it was her priority to build relationships beyond the church building and work together with interfaith partners.

Sarah holds a BA in History from the College of St. Scholastica, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and ordination through Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Sarah lives in Windsor Heights with her husband Will and their sons Ian (9) and Gus (7).

What drew you to DMARC originally, and how has it changed since then?
As a pastor in the Des Moines Metro, I had known DMARC to be an innovative organization. There was a culture of saying “yes” to opportunities and taking action. My position as Coordinator of Interfaith Engagement was created because Director Rev. Sarai Rice saw the possibilities in me. They actually had to build an additional office space so I had a place to work. In my time here, interfaith engagement has become a much more significant part of DMARC’s work. Following Sarai’s retirement this past summer, I am the primary point of contact for religious communities.

What do you like most about working at DMARC?
I appreciate how every one of the staff have multiple talents and we all work together. Warehouse staff are skilled in giving presentations and media interviews. Office staff know how to operate a pallet jack. Everyone is willing to pitch in to make efforts successful.

What is your proudest moment at DMARC?
Each summer I coordinate an Interfaith Youth Leadership Camp, then throughout the year I bring the participants together for panels and presentations. I am so proud every time I hear those young leaders share about the experiences engaging with other faith communities. They always have insights that inspire and surprise me. It’s been pretty incredible to hear how they’ve built on the camp experience and taken interfaith engagement in new directions in their own lives.

What’s a fun fact about yourself that others might not be aware of?
I can introduce myself in Navajo, something I learned while I was an AmeriCorps VISTA in Gallup, NM.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I have made some pretty awesome Halloween costumes over the years. My favorite year was when we were all classic characters from scary stories: Ian was Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven, Gus was a Werewolf, Will was the Wolf that ate Grandma from Little Red Riding Hood, and I was Tippi Hendren’s character from Hitchcock’s the Birds. In grad school when I had no money for supplies, I stapled pages of notes from my Greek class into a dress and went as homework.

Before working at DMARC, what’s the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
I have worked since I was 16 years old–the full spectrum of fast food, retail, and hospitality jobs, later non-profit and ministry work. It has all been interesting! But the job left me with the most stories and life impacting experiences was my 2 years as the Night Staff Chaplain at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I had to be ready for anything. One night a patron from bars down the road stumbled in to the Emergency Room entrance. He had been stabbed several times. When the staff determined he was in no immediate danger, they disappeared leaving me and paramedic to bandage him up and keep him company till transport to an adult hospital arrived. Drunk and belligerent, he was determined to leave and get his hands on the person who attacked him. I put on a pair of gloves, held his hand and flirted with him for 45 minutes till his ambulance arrived.

Where is your favorite place in the world to be?
Since I moved to Iowa, I have planted a strip of prairie plants in my back yard. From early spring to fall, it’s my favorite thing to go out first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee and take a leisurely look.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be fashion designer or an artist.

If you could use one famous movie line to describe yourself, what would it be?
“You make me want to be a better person.” Jack Nicholson expressing his love to Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give.”

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