For over nine years, so much has changed at Portland Rescue Mission. Transitions have happened, improvements have been made to facilities, new programs have been created and yet, amid all the changes, one thing has remained consistent: Breakfast on the fourth Thursday of the month.
With Mark Lasof leading the way, the UPS volunteers have become beloved staples at the Burnside Shelter. (Mark is a longtime UPS employee who currently serves as a General Manager for UPS Freight Forwarding). Armed with “extras,” as Mark describes, that include everything from hot chocolate and whipped cream, to cinnamon-sugar, to sausage and gravy, breakfast during their team’s shift becomes extra special for our guests. At their December breakfast one volunteer even brought homemade dog treats for those with animals.
“This group’s generosity amazes me … this is a pretty phenomenal team, and the people that come to serve really enjoy it,” Mark said.
The men, women and children joining us for breakfast aren’t the only ones who’ve been changed in the process.
“I have found the experience to be very rewarding,” Mark explains. “I always challenge people who have never volunteered at the Mission to come and give it a try, and I think the takeaway has always been that you get more out of it than you give.”
Mark fondly remembers a time he and his team of volunteers were serving breakfast, and he spotted one gentleman who badly needed a pair of shoes. Unfortunately the Mission did not have a pair of size 14 shoes available to give him. But Mark did. As a fellow size 14 and avid Pickleball player, Mark was able to step outside, walk to his car and grab a brand new pair of shoes he had recently purchased. He gave them to the man along with a nice, heavy coat to replace the old tattered one he was wearing.
“I came in the next month, and as I was in the serving line, I look over and I see that same gentleman in line,” Mark described. “He had on that same pair of shoes I gave him along with that same coat underneath his old tattered one he had the month before.
“It gave me chills because it reminded me that even small gestures of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life.”
Mark and his volunteer team’s faithful efforts have also inspired UPS as an organization to get involved with the Mission.
“This is part of the UPS culture. It’s in our DNA,” Mark said. “People look forward to it. They’re proud of it. They tell other coworkers about it. They tell other offices about it and they take a lot of pride in what we’re blessed to do here regularly.”
In response, the UPS Foundation recently blessed Shepherd’s Door with a gift toward updating the playground at the facility in northeast Portland.
“When guests will talk to us as we’re serving, they’ll say thank you,” Mark said. “But for all of us serving them, we have to say thank you to them because it’s an absolute privilege to be here.
“Proverbs 19:7 (ESV) says it all, ‘Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.’”
If your business or organization is interested in serving breakfast at the Mission, we have openings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. To find out more about volunteering at meals or at another place in the Mission, fill out an application at PortlandRescueMission.org/Volunteer. Our volunteers are a vital part of giving hope and restoring life to men, women and children suffering from homelessness and addiction all year long.