2014 was a landmark year here at Portland Rescue Mission. In addition to being the city’s largest provider of emergency shelter for men, we’ve added new programs to care for homeless women. We’re serving more meals and providing more nights of refuge than ever before.
Street life is dangerous for anyone, but much more so for women. For the first time in our 65-year history, we’re able to provide short-term residential programming for homeless women at our Burnside Shelter. Launched in March, Connect provides up to 16 women with the stability of meals, a bed, and assistance toward employment and housing. 44 women have participated so far, with most completing the program in about 3 months.
Construction is already underway to add room for 10 more women in Connect. Expansion will include beds, a dining area and an additional restroom.
The support of friends like you has provided vital growth in the programs and services we offer to people in need. In 2013, we moved our 12-month men’s recovery ministry to The Harbor, a renovated nursing home in north Portland. This opened up two floors of our Burnside Shelter for new opportunities – 3-month residential programs for men (Link) and women (Connect), that transition people quickly toward independent housing and employment.
This year, all of our programs reached capacity, with up to 353 people a night finding refuge and care throughout all our locations.
For people who’ve hit hard times and have no home, each day is a matter of survival. They spend much of their day making sure they can get their next meal, a restroom and a safe place to rest. They walk long distances to get to medical or other appointments, carrying the few possessions and clothes they have. And if they must sleep outside, they get little rest, leaving them exhausted and dirty. Getting a job under these circumstances is extremely difficult.
For many years, the Mission has offered showers to up to 172 men in our overnight emergency shelter. This year, we’ve begun offering showers during the day to anyone in need. That’s over 19,000 showers a year to restore dignity, reduce sickness and rejuvenate people with hope.
The number of men, women and children coming to us for help continues to rise. In the coming year, we expect to serve nearly 20% more meals than last year. That’s over 325,000 meals a year – our highest number ever. We also expect to provide refuge for over 40% more people than the previous year – around 82,000 nights of rest for weary souls.
Every meal, every bed we provide, is a chance for us to learn a hurting person’s name, listen to their story, and offer the first steps toward a new life.
Most of our significant renovations throughout the Mission will soon be complete. In the coming year, we hope to heighten our hospitality to hurting people through smaller improvement projects. At the Burnside Shelter, these will likely include new flooring in the dining room, new food warmers, and painting the exterior of the building. At Shepherd’s Door, women in recovery will have renovated space for quiet contemplation. Children will enjoy an outdoor covered play area so they can be in a natural environment even on Portland’s rainy days.
Projects like these are essential as we strive to create a safe, healing environment that welcomes hurting people and helps communicate God’s love for them.
New efforts at The Harbor and Shepherd’s Door will increase career readiness for graduates of our New Life ministry. We’re pursuing social enterprise and business partnership options that will give men and women real-life work experience. The hands-on training and relational support they receive will help propel them into job success and financial stability.