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About Homelessness

‘Tales from the Lighthouse’: Generosity, transformation at the Burnside Shelter

Life on the ‘other side of the yellow door’ at the Burnside Shelter can be life-changing for those who come through Portland Rescue Mission and take steps toward a new life. It’s where guests off the street can start to receive the hope and restoration they’ve needed for many years. We wanted to give you a glimpse inside of our Hope Ministries, courtesy of Guest Care Specialist Andrew Hall, to see firsthand some of the life-transformation that we take place on a daily basis. Here are just a handful of those stories:

Generosity Abounds

A mom and her boys came by Burnside and dropped off 136 Care Kits containing items for our guests.

A mom and her boys came by Burnside and dropped off 136 Care Kits containing items for our guests.

Burnside’s bright yellow door is constantly swinging open with either people bringing in donated gifts or our guests who will soon receive them.

These are just three small examples that show the generosity and grace of those that exist in our community. Our organization runs solely off of donations and many of those donations come from our very own guests. People we have known for years and children learning to care for others. May we be inspired by these servants and work ever-harder to serve our community in return.

Sobriety Birthday

Several months ago we met a young woman who came to us at Burnside cold, hungry, scared, paranoid and desperate to get clean. We walked her through what we could provide her in terms of services, offered her our support as she began the long road to recovery and assured her that we would be here to encourage her as she progresses.

We have seen her intermittently throughout those months, and with each meeting she seemed a bit warmer, a bit fuller, a bit stronger, tougher and cleaner. Today, she came in with a smile on her face wanting to celebrate her sobriety birthday with the people who supported her. “It’s been sixty days”, she said. “Sixty days, and can you imagine how far I’ve come already? Remember when I first got here, what I was like? And now I’m sixty days clean, I’m engaged and I’m here to share and celebrate with you.”

With a new diamond ring on her finger and her fiancé standing at her side, she raised into view a pan of freshly baked brownies with frosting and cherries–her grandmother’s recipe–wanting to share with her friends and with staff. “You were here when I needed someone most. You cared for me, you helped me and I wanted to celebrate with you because this is a big day in my life. I took a UA yesterday and it came out clean for the first time in a long time. It felt so good to see that.”

We see lives change every day at the Burnside Shelter, and your ongoing support is what makes this work possible. Be encouraged by our friend and the hope and new life that she enjoys.

From Art to Life Transformation


For the last four weeks, a young man named Stewart has blessed us with his presence and participation at our new art workshop in the Guest Care Center. He has come each week, created something beautiful and shared bits and pieces of his incredible story. He was born and raised in the South Pacific Islands, found himself homeless through a series of events and uses art to keep himself upbeat, to keep his mind active, and to worship God for His provision.

Last night, the staff at Burnside welcomed him into the Connect program. The beginning of his new journey toward restoration has begun. When I walked in for work this morning, his smiling face was the first I saw, ready for a hot meal and to get to work at his new vocation.

Please pray for our fine men and women in Connect as they work toward securing housing, employment and stability.

Man of Prayer

Micah stops for a moment of prayer with his friend.

Micah stops for a moment of prayer with his friend.

There was a gentleman who had recently created much drama at the Burnside Shelter. Through repeated outbursts during meals, thrown food, spitting, cursing at volunteers and staff, and refusal to leave the premises, he had made it difficult for our staff to serve him in the ways we desire. That did not stop Micah Mahder from our facilities team.

Micah quickly built a strong rapport with this gentleman by stopping him at the train station and asking to pray for the man. The man was surprised by the request and asked Micah to please pray for him. Micah did so and both men went about their days. Several days later, as Micah was diligently working alone at Burnside, he saw his new friend and again stopped to speak with the man.

The man spoke at length about a number of topics and, at the conclusion of their talk, Micah again asked if he could pray for the man. The men held each other’s hand and Micah placed his other hand on the man’s shoulder. And once again they turned to the Lord for guidance, peace, protection and blessings. Micah is an excellent example of the heart of service present on this team. He lets nothing stop him from his priority of serving the men, women, and children of our community and showing the love of God to his beloved brothers and sisters on the street. And to top it all off, as Micah prayed, he still held his file like the true facilities man and prayer warrior he is.