5 Ways to Help Someone Homeless This Winter

_mg_0988Harsh winter conditions are especially detrimental for men and women living outside.

“Being homeless is beyond difficult, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But being homeless during the winter can be deadly,” said Guest Care Manager Andrew Hall.

Life becomes all about survival for men and women on the streets.

“I remember walking by a dumpster, and finding a really nice piece of cardboard. … It covered my whole body,” described Robin, who spent a significant amount of time on the streets battling the elements herself. “But before I knew it, I was waking up in the morning. It was freezing cold, I was wet and it was like 30 degrees. Someone had stolen my cardboard.

“My feet were numb, my hands were numb and I couldn’t stop shaking. It was so cold. That piece of cardboard meant everything to me.” Robin found warmth and help at Portland Rescue Mission to transition her off the streets.

At Portland Rescue Mission, we keep our doors open no matter the weather.

“While the world closes up for weather, we stay open, to fight the cold and darkness,” said Tim Desper, Director of Burnside Services. “We are here, and will be open and serving day and night, especially during these storms when most resources close up.”

We’re inviting you to join us this winter. Here are 5 ways to give hope and restore life to someone facing homeless:

ENGAGE: If you encounter someone who is homeless, smile and say hello. Acknowledging the person gives them dignity. Engage the person in conversation. Take time to listen to their story if you can. Ask what their greatest need is and help if you can.

CARRY RESOURCES: In many cases, helping with food or clothing is better than giving money. Keep care kits* with you that include socks, toothbrushes, soap, bottled water, snacks or gift certificates for food. Include our clip-out coupons that describe services available at the Mission. You can also carry Trimet tickets and encourage the person to come to Portland Rescue Mission for help. Let them know you support the Mission so that their needs will be met. Our Burnside Shelter is open 24/7 with caring staff and volunteers. You can call us at 503.906.7690 for more information or support. For the most up-to-date information on other winter shelters in the Portland area you can also call 2-1-1.

ORGANIZE A CLOTHING DRIVE: Ask your business or school to donate needed winter items such as blankets, coats, hats, gloves and socks. These items go quickly and help make the winter chill more bearable for our guests.

Here are some examples of what people have done to care for people facing homelessness:

VOLUNTEER: Winter is a hard season in many ways for the people we serve. Our guests are  not only facing the cold, but they are also away from family and facing loneliness and often despair. Serving as a volunteer gives you a unique, hands on perspective and opportunity to speak hope into someone’s life and encourage them towards a life off the streets. Volunteering changes lives. Watch this video to hear what some of our volunteers have to say. Email us for more information on volunteering at [email protected] or you can apply now HERE.

GIVE: A simple way to help those in need is to financially partner with Portland Rescue Mission. Because we don’t receive government funding, private giving from our faithful friends fuels this ministry. And the donations received during the winter season largely dictate the amount of services we can offer in the coming year. “We are so appreciative of the many supporters who make it possible to be the place of respite and warmth.” –Tim Desper, Director of Burnside Services.

Thanks to you and your support, we are able to provide life-restoring care every day of the year.

Thank you for making it a priority to give hope and restore life.

*Download your free copy of “5 Things A Homeless Person Could Use” along with instructions on how to pack a care kit.