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About Homelessness

Annual Birthday Party Makes a Splash at Portland Rescue Mission

At our 9th annual Birthday Party for the Homeless, guests grabbed their snorkeling gear at the photo booth and dove into an underwater-themed party at The Burnside Shelter.

Portland Rescue Mission values this day as one of the many opportunities we take to make sure guests feel celebrated and valued­–– through a party, meal, card, and conversation.

“For you and me, a birthday is a celebration. For most of our guests, birthdays come and go like any other day. None of them get to experience celebration,” said Timothy Desper, Director of Burnside Services.

We wanted to celebrate our guests, just like we would our family or friends. Thanks to the generosity of the community, our “Under the Sea” themed party included karaoke, games, photos, dessert, decorations, gift bags, and a special dinner for all of the guests.

“The Birthday makes me feel great. The people, music, the games, the colors­––It’s just great,” shared Mark, a guest at the party.

Volunteers came to set up and interact with the guests throughout the afternoon, and churches, schools and friends of the Mission sent in over 400 cards to be given out to the guests on this day.

Cards contained wishes for a happy day, reminders that the guests are valued and special, and words of hope that there is good ahead for them.

One woman opened her card at dinner, read it, and held it to her heart before wiping her eyes.

On each table, balloons– donated by a friend of the mission named Cindy­– were tied to beach pails. The snack table was full of gold fish, gummy worms and other “sea snacks.” Cold coffee donated by Stumptown was a special touch. Chick-fil-A delivered chicken sandwiches for our dinner and our friends at Shari’s Café and Pies brought their seasonal treats to share: Mochachino silk pie and Chocolate Oregon Hazelnut silk pie.

“We love giving back to the community and this is a perfect way for us to partner up with an organization we love,” said Carrie Henderson, Marketing Manager at Shari’s Café and Pies

Melody’s Angels, came to serve dinner and pass out hand-packaged care bags to each guest, with items such as lotion, socks and Kleenex.

“This is our fourth year partnering with the Portland Rescue Mission and we keep coming back because we love seeing smiles,” said Melody Song, founder of Melody’s Angels.

“I love it, this is awesome!” said a guest named Cynthia. “Last year I sang so much I lost my voice. I got my nails done, I ate everything I could think of and I left here blessed.”

This year she’s especially grateful. “Today is awesome for me because I got a new start. I got my housing and I’m making friends.”


Thank you to everyone who partnered with us this year: Whether you sent in a birthday card, donated decorations, or came to volunteer, you were an important part of this celebration. We value you and are grateful for you. Thank you for giving hope and restoring life this summer.