GWEN WILLIAMS MEMORIALIZED IN LEGACY GIFT
For more that two-thirds of its history, Operation Nightwatch was primarily a volunteer-run organization. Among those volunteers, there would be a steady core of 6 to 8 volunteers who were vital to keeping the Hospitality Center alive.
One of those was Gwen Williams. Recently Gwen passed away and we received a generous legacy gift from her estate.
The funds from the gift will be directed to enhance the health care offerings we can make available to our guests, as well as to make sure they (at least for the foreseeable future) don’t run out of socks.
In serving our guests in these ways, we believe Gwen’s spirit will live on.
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE
When I started volunteering at Nightwatch back in 2012, I had just moved to Portland from my relatively small home town and was having a hard time settling in. Portland was a large, intimidating place to 19-year-old-me, so most of my days were spent in my microscopic dorm room- it was a lonely time in my life. I remember how wonderful it felt to interact with guests at ONW- of course boundaries were important, and I had to be aware of my role as a volunteer, but just being able to connect and have a conversation with another human being brightened up my otherwise dreary world. Before long, I had a sense of stability in my life. I began to make friends with my fellow freshman classmates and deeply enjoyed giving my time to such inspiring people when I was here. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to witness the magic that takes place at Nightwatch and just how powerful and important community is, whether you are a volunteer or a guest.
One of our guests at the Mobile Hospitality Center was telling me the other day, “I just like coming here to be around other people. Sometimes I will be alone all day and I just need to be around people, feel that energy.”
Another guest I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for 5 years just got into permanent housing- congratulations! Yet, he still comes back and sees us every week. He comes back to see his friends, to laugh over a cup of coffee, and to feel connected to people that are important to him. We’ve been saying for years, “home” is more than a house or a dorm room, it’s also the people with whom you belong, and the community to whom you belong. Thank goodness for the Nightwatch community!
MEMORIAL SERVICE, APRIL 14
The annual Memorial Service for those who have died on the streets has been a Nightwatch tradition since 1983. And since 1983, it has followed essentially the same design, offered a Wednesday afternoon in Holy Week.
This year we are re-thinking both the timing and design of the service to better accommodate 2017 circumstances. First of all, we would like to hold it at a time when more people can attend—including (especially!) our Nightwatch guests who had personal connections with those who died. Secondly, the spiritual landscape is different than it once was; while most still recognize the importance of ritual at key times (such as memorial services), people come to ritual with such diverse backgrounds that “liturgical shape” has different meanings for them.
This year’s Memorial Service will be held on Friday, April 14 (Good Friday), at 8:00 p.m. And the first time, we will be taking the service outside downtown. Indeed, it will be totally outside! It will be held at the site where our Mobile Hospitality Center serves Friday nights, the cul-de-sac at the Flavel St. MAX stop (9333 SE Mt Scott Blvd, Portland, OR 97266 for GoogleMaps or GPS).
The service will be structured loosely enough that contributions from those attending (readings, musical offerings, etc.) will be invited.
We hope you can join us.
From the Assistant Director
There’s almost nothing that feels better than taking a hot shower on a cold day. Now, imagine that you were living outside in a tent, didn’t have consistent access to running water, and were living the winter months in a constant state of cold. Man, that shower would feel amazing!
Thanks to our partnership with Clackamas Service Center and our dedicated volunteers, we have been able to offer hot showers to about 20 people a week at our SE Hospitality Center. It has quickly become one of our most popular services, and the smiles on people’s faces as they emerge squeaky-clean and warmed up is absolutely priceless. Not only do the showers help Nightwatch fulfill its mission of truly caring for our friends on the streets, but reports from the Outside In medical van reveal that outbreaks of lice and scabies has drastically decreased as well since the showers have been up and running. What awesome news!
Although this is great news, we NEED your help! Our showers have been running on a skeleton crew of two or three dedicated individuals, and the day will come when they aren’t able to come out every week. We need volunteers to step up to facilitate the shower vans, or else the day will inevitably come that we have to turn away our hopeful guests.
ANNUAL REPORT TO BE PUBLISHED IN JANUARY
The 2016 will be available mid-January. With our Executive Director’s upcoming retirement next June, it will in truth be more than an annual report, reviewing much of the past 10 years of his tenure at Nightwatch.
We will send a link to a digital form of the report to all those on our email lists, as well as put an alert on our Web site (www.operationnightwatch.org) when it is available. (Please let us know if you would like to be added to our email list.)
And also please alert us if you would like a “hard copy” of the report. We will send you one in the mail.