Dottie Perham-Whittier stands in Kennedy Park on Dec. 16 across the street from where she works at Lewiston City Hall. For many years, Perham-Whittier helped young people develop their faith as a youth minister. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A few months ago, Dottie Perham-Whittier was having a hard day.

Then, out of the blue, one of her former youth group students showed up at her office with a small gift.

Although it had been years since they last spoke, Perham-Whittier’s former student, Christine, said she had been reflecting on her years in youth ministry earlier that day when she decided to buy the necklace for Perham-Whittier.

“Of course I just bawled,” said Perham-Whittier, formerly a volunteer youth minister at Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in Lewiston. “To think that she would think of me years later. It makes you feel good that the way God has touched my life. Hopefully I’ve been able to pass that on a little bit.”

Perham-Whittier, a Lewiston native, asked Jesus into her heart at 10 years old. It was a pivotal moment in her life; even at a young age, she knew she wanted to follow the Word of God.

Over the years, her faith has sustained her though many trying situations.


Perham-Whittier had nearly given up on becoming a mother after seven years of infertility and a miscarriage. Then, at 38, she was blessed with her son, Mack.

“That was the best gift from God that I’ve ever gotten,” she said.

It was many years later, while following the ambulance that held her sick teenage son, that Perham-Whittier experienced one of the darkest moments in her life.

As she drove through a storm alone, headed for the hospital, her pastor from East Auburn Baptist Church called.

“(He) just said, ‘We’re praying for you. We just got the word, and we’re praying for you, Dottie,'” she recalled. “It just showed me that God put people in my life that were there for me and were really His hands and feet when I needed someone to come alongside me.

“That was really hard to follow that ambulance, let me tell you.”


Now in his early 20s, Perham-Whittier — who also has three beloved adult step-children — said her son has recovered and is in good health. But his illness, which coincided with a painful divorce and the death of her mother, made her — and her faith — stronger.

“My faith grew through all of that because I could just see how God placed people and experiences in my path that kept me functioning from day to day,” she said.

The miracles and challenges Perham-Whittier has faced during her life have inspired her to help young people grow their own connection with God. It’s work she “absolutely” loves to do.

Christine isn’t the only student who has returned to share her gratitude. Over the years, Perham-Whittier said she has received cards, texts and emails from many of her students.

“Sometimes you can say, ‘Oh, I have a faith in God’ and people don’t really understand,” she said. “It’s not some strange thing. It’s a relationship with God and his son, Jesus Christ … It’s something that’s really meaningful and impactful.”

“It’s a wonderful foundation to build your life on,” she said.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story