Hundreds of men and women came to our Burnside Shelter last night for “Serving Hope,” our sixth annual kick off to the holiday season. We partnered with Harry’s Fresh Foods to serve about 500 special, restaurant-style dinners to give hope to hurting, homeless people.
“The holiday season is often difficult for homeless men and women who are separated from their family and loved ones,” says Eric Bauer, our executive director. “A special meal, served by compassionate and caring volunteers, offers the warmth and home of family for people who have no other place to go.”
The evening started with about 40 employees from Harry’s Fresh Foods, who had volunteered their after-work hours, setting up the dining room and offering hot apple cider to the men and women who waited outside for the doors to open.
“What we’re trying to do at Harry’s is build a culture where we give back to the community,” says Mark Murray, VP of Sales and Marketing. “It’s a natural connection for us to be feeding people, and you think you’re the one giving, but you really get a lot more back. Our whole staff is very excited to help; everyone just feels great about it.”
When the meal began, hundreds of homeless people were treated to a sit-down, white tablecloth dinner of sweet Italian sausage, vegetables, sweet potatoes, and spiced apples, all prepared by the award-winning Chef David Mack. The dinner guests also enjoyed live musical entertainment throughout the evening.
“When you’re outside and you don’t have any money in your pocket or anything, I just don’t know what I’d do without a nice, hot meal like this,” says Stewart, one of the dinner guests. “When we’re here, we don’t feel like we’re just being discarded. The people here really care.”
The line for this special dinner stretched far down the sidewalk from the Mission. When the men and women were invited in, you couldn’t help but notice the big smiles on many of the faces. “This really lightens our spirits,” says Greg, another guest. “A lot of people here don’t have a family-type setting. A chance to sit down at dinner with a family. This is a way to get people together, to sit down, relax and have a good time. A meal here gives people hope that they could actually do this at home one day themselves. They don’t have to come to the Mission forever to get this.”
We want to say a very special thank you to Harry’s Fresh Foods for generously providing all of the food and staffing for this fantastic event. As we’re now officially in the holiday season, just remember that each night while you are at home eating dinner with your family or friends at your table, we have hundreds of guests at ours. That’s a lot of food to provide, and we can’t do it without your help!
Give a gift today that will offer hope to a hurting person this holiday season. A full meal costs just $1.60. How many can you provide? Give online at www.PortlandRescueMission.org/Give. Thank you.