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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 guitarist at DHCinteract 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!