× Close
I Need Help Donate

About Homelessness

Portland Rescue Mission is Open for Business

Portland Rescue Mission opens their Burnside Shelter dining room doors to the public for the first time in over two years.

How We Adapted in the Pandemic

After two years of significantly adapting their services and programs, on May 9th, Portland Rescue Mission is inviting the public inside to sit around tables with highly-relational staff and volunteers, intentionally promoting conversation and relationship building at its Burnside Shelter.

Executive Director, Eric Bauer says “When we first recognized the nature of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, we adapted immediately to new spacing requirements, new sanitation protocols, new health challenges and a dramatic increase in demand for meals.  These adaptations included serving meals out the door in to-go containers, increasing the spacing between shelter beds, purchasing and using PPE’s, installing air purification systems, quadrupling our nursing care hours, and adding mobile services by purchasing an outreach van. We responded quickly so we could continue vital services and keep people safe at the same time. It was very important that the people we serve knew we would continue to provide life-sustaining services. When the challenges and needs increased, we didn’t retreat, we advanced.”

For two years, the staff at Portland Rescue Mission doubled down to meet the increased needs in an ever-changing environment. Yet, throughout the pandemic, the staff felt the loss of relational vitality with the guests. When meals are served ‘to-go’ and crowds cannot gather inside, conversations and connections become less frequent, and relationships become harder to cultivate.

Relationship: The Heart of What We Do

Eric Bauer “Homelessness is a very isolating experience. The pandemic made a hard situation even harder. Addictions are up because isolation is a core factor in addiction. Inviting people inside for a meal is the most common first step toward building relationships that cultivate trust, ignite hope, and guide to pathways off the street. We meet people where they are and walk with them at a pace they can sustain out of isolation and into healthy community. And this whole process often starts with a meal.”

Director of Burnside Services, Tim Desper says: “We have really missed sharing meals with people in our dining room. Relationships have always been at the heart of what we do. We provide life-sustaining services and compassionate care to lift people out of the danger and isolation of the streets. Through these highly relational services, our guests receive the support they need to transition into stability and housing.”

Eric Bauer continues, “Sidewalks were not made to be lived on. People need a safe, comfortable, and clean place from which to reenter community leading to a thriving life.”

On Monday, May 9th the Burnside Shelter will be welcoming guests inside the dining room for the first time since March 2020.

About Portland Rescue Mission

Formed in 1949, Portland Rescue Mission gives hope and restores life to men, women and children throughout the Portland-Vancouver metro community who struggle with hunger, homelessness, and addiction. The program is primarily funded by individuals and receives no government support. More information is at www.portlandrescuemisson.org.