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Burnside Shelter

Portland Rescue Mission Personal Perspective: Gary Parkin

Volunteers play an invaluable role in the ministry of Portland Rescue Mission. In 2022 alone, 877 volunteers served a grand total of 15,397 hours. Each hour was filled with the kind of relational care that brings hope to men, women, and children who struggle with hunger and homelessness. The gifts of time, talent, and heart make it possible for the Mission to serve our neighbors in need, and for that, we are so grateful! This month our Volunteer Profile features our friend Gary.

Tell me about yourself.
My name is Gary Parkin. I retired from serving as a Public Works Director in 2017 and enjoy spending time with my four grandkids. I’ve been volunteering at the Burnside Shelter in the Guest Relations Office since 2018.
What inspired or prompted you to volunteer with the Portland Rescue Mission?
I served meals at the Burnside Shelter with a group from church and liked interacting with the guests and program guys. My friend Ricky told me that he wanted to serve at the mission when he retired and when I retired we applied together. I enjoy serving alongside him. I welcome guests as they come to the mission needing to use the restroom, pick up mail and supplies like socks and hygiene items, seek services and refuge from the streets. I talk to them and serve them with kindness.
What has been an impactful moment you have experienced or witnessed while serving?
I’ve come to know quite a few regular guests and program guys. It’s great to listen to their stories and begin to know them.
There’s one guy that I see almost every week, welcoming him in by name. He is a very quiet person but has began to talk to me and tell me about himself.
How have you grown or changed through volunteering?
I have greater empathy for people. I’m more aware of God using me and the spiritual gifts I’ve been entrusted with.
What has it meant to you personally to connect with the guests and participants at Portland Rescue Mission?
Everyone has a story. Some have stories that are devastating. I have grown by showing love to those who need it most. Portland Rescue Mission is a place where our yearning to serve the Lord and people can be truly satisfied. Extending your faith here will help you become more and more Christ-like.
If you would like to explore volunteer opportunities for yourself or your group, please visit our Volunteer Page.