Portland, Ore. – For the first time in 71 years, the Portland Rescue Mission is going mobile. Homeless residents can not go to the Mission for help right now because of covid-19, so they’re taking that help directly to local homeless camps. Volunteers load up supplies like coats and blankets and head out to build relationships and offer hand ups, not hand outs. The new program is spearheaded by Bradley Thatcher. He is an ex-Marine Reserve, and five years ago he was living on the streets. He was homeless until he signed up at the mission and committed to turning his life around. Now he’s on a mission to give back and help others through what he went through. KXL’s Jacob Dean talked with him.
PORTLAND, Ore. For the first time in its 71-year history of serving neighbors in need, Portland Rescue Mission is now delivering life-sustaining meals and supplies for those where they are sheltering in place. An outreach ministry van equipped with meals, water, blankets and socks is making stops to help people at makeshift shelters as the cool, rainy winter months arrive. The mobile service is a supplement to Portland Rescue Mission’s emergency and recovery programs that are operating at full capacity year-round. “Although it is more effective to provide emergency and recovery support from safe central locations, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing us to stretch to support our neighbors in crisis,” said Eric Bauer, executive director of Portland Rescue Mission.
The mobile outreach effort is led by Bradley Thatcher, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, who previously survived months on the street after alcohol abuse caused him to lose employment and housing. He is supported by a team of staff and volunteers. “Surviving on the street is much tougher than most realize. Our intention is to build relationships by providing critical meals and supplies to signal that there is hope,” said Thatcher. “Forming relationships is essential to helping people find pathways toward stability.” Thatcher said the service is currently serving dozens of people within a few miles of the Mission’s Burnside Shelter, each time they deploy the mobile outreach service. The service will soon be available nearly every weekday for those in need.
The outreach ministry is part of a broad range of homeless and addiction recovery services provided free of charge by the nonprofit Portland Rescue Mission. It is funded mostly by caring individuals, along with companies, foundations and churches.
Those who want to support the mobile outreach program are encouraged to sponsor a “COVID CARE KIT” where, for $24 a month, two people in need receive a fresh-cooked meal, water, snacks, a dry blanket, socks and other personal hygiene and clothing. More information is at www.portlandrescuemission.org/covidcarekit.
Portland Rescue Mission serves about 1,000 people a week at its flagship location on Burnside in downtown Portland. It revamped and boosted its meal service from 900 to about 1,500 hot nutritious meals a day, provides hundreds of people a safe place to sleep each night, and distributed tons of donated supplies in the last 12 months.
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 funded mostly by individuals and receives no government support. More information is at www.portlandrescuemisson.org.