PORTLAND — 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 the 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 outreach is currently serving dozens of people within a few miles of the mission’s Burnside Shelter, each time they deploy the mobile service. It 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 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.