LOCAL BANDS STAGE NIGHTWATCH BENEFIT, DECEMBER 6
Alder Street Records and RLM Entertainment have put together the first annual "Keeping Portland Warm" event to collect blankets, coats, and warm clothing for Nightwatch on December 6.
If you're a party person, put it on your calendar. If you're not, we still need blankets, so however you can help in that regard would be most welcome.
CHAPLAIN’S NOTES: “Comfort"
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her.
–Isaiah 40:1-2a NRSV
When we think of comfort, we might envision a long, all-expenses-paid stay at a five star resort. Perhaps a private stretch of white sand beach, sleeping quarters opening onto a secure courtyard with sliding glass doors that could be opened to gentle night breezes under starry skies. A daily massage…
Our downtown hospitality center is hardly that picture of comfort as the aging facility groans and crumbles under the weight of over-use. Definitely not five stars! But starting with the October 31 monsoon, there has been an extraordinary amount of discomfort for folks on the street. It hasn’t let up. People who otherwise could stay warm cannot do so when everything is wet. Predictably, with the sweeping of campsites by ODOT and the police, other folks who had the essentials have lost them to theft. It’s worse than having your bike or your car stolen. It’s having your home stolen—all while being sleep deprived and suffering from many kinds of physical ailments, some life-threatening.
It’s humbling to be able to offer someone a hot meal, dry socks or a blanket as they prepare for anoth-er long night outside. I know these crumbs of comfort won’t last very long. Still, they are comfort and a reason to hope. We offer a welcome, some space, some rest. We offer our presence, our patience, our participation in other people’s lives. We offer ourselves. That matters enormously.
I as Chaplain am called to offer something else: spiritual care, grace, forgiveness, the physical presence of Christ in Word and Sacra-ment. And prayer, a chance for folks to say out loud what’s weighing on them, what they are thankful for, what they care about. Those are a huge comfort.
There’s more. You, Opera-tion Nightwatch volunteers, you are a comfort to me. You affirm that our efforts are not in vain, that human beings are valued as persons who have names and life stories. May God bless and empower you to com-fort our guests and all whose lives you touch. Blessings and comfort, all!
FROM OUR PROGRAM COORDINATOR
"All of my stuff just got stolen;" "Everything I had to keep me warm at night got soaked in the rain today;" "I just don’t have enough layers to stay warm in the cold of the night."
If you’ve spent much time at Nightwatch you have probably heard these sorts of statements many times. I know I have. And it has been great in my time thus far at Nightwatch to be able to meet these needs and help out our guests living in very vulnerable circumstances by being able to provide blankets for them.
But now we are out of blankets—just as the cold and wet weather of late autumn and Winter is setting in. So now our volunteers and staff members have to tell our guests that we can’t help them stay warm at night with a blanket, and we have to do this know-ing they have no other places to go to get a blanket during our hours of opera-tion.
Needless to say, I am writing this to shamelessly plea for blanket donations. To help out in this time of need you can make a monetary dona-tion to our blankets and socks fund, or you can bring in blankets and give them to us directly. So please check around your house for blankets that you don’t use anymore and/or consider making a monetary donation for this need. I know our guests will really appreciate it!
What a busy few months we’ve had at our Mobile and Southeast Hospitality Centers! As we have continued to deepen our relationships with our guests in SE Portland, a few notable changes to the Nightwatch Family deserve to be mentioned. First, we would like to sincerely thank Ted and Grace Jacobson for their four years of dedicated service at our Mobile Center! Ted and Grace have provided food and hospitality at our Mobile Center every first Friday for longer than we can count, and for their service there are no words that could express enough gratitude. We will miss you and wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
As we have said goodbye to some of our crew, we also have had the chance to say hello to others. Solid Rock Baptist Church has joined our Mobile Crew for every fourth Friday, and we couldn’t be happier! This crew has brought belly-warming meals and heart-warming hospitality to our cold Friday evenings, and we look forward to continuing this partnership. Additionally, our friend Robert has generously stepped up to provide food for first Fridays. We are still looking for a regular first Friday crew (please contact us if you are interested!) but we can all breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that a hearty meal will be provided to our guests.
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge those who have joined the crew of “regular volunteers” at our Southeast Hospitality Center. To you and to all of the amazing rock star volunteers we have been getting, we couldn’t do it without you. The presence of volunteers at our SE Center has enabled us to create a truly hospitable space to our ever-growing group of guests. Go Outreach Team!