Candice – Homeless and Mentally Ill

From Darsey, a staff member of Portland Rescue Mission.  Darsey often joins with our staff and volunteers on Monday nights as they wash and massage the feet and hands of homeless women.

Candice* oscillates between states of awareness and fits of giggling. Her hair is dirty and matted to her head. When we see her at our street women’s ministry on Monday nights, she rarely uses full words to express herself. Volunteers wash and massage her feet and give her donated shoes. She rocks forwards and back, side to side, giggling and patting her head.

Candice’s mother was schitzophrenic, and she wasn’t cared for properly as a baby. Now, Candice has a mental disability, and she lives alone on the streets.

What can we do? Is washing her feet and giving her food enough? Or are we called to do something more?

Friends, it’s times like these when it’s easier to say, “Oh well, we’ll pray for her. She really needs some help.” Then we busy ourselves with other things, with other people, with other needs, and we forget about Candice until we see her again, mumbling and looking off into space, oblivious to the world around her.

Last week, someone intervened. After witnessing Candice in unsafe situations on the sidewalk at Burnside Shelter, our Outreach team realized that she needed more help that she might get at a shelter or in prison. So one staff member, a man who hardly knows her, talked with other local agencies who knew Candice, and they supported his decision to go to court and made a plea for this woman who has no family, no verbal skills, and no shoes.

Now Candice will spend the next six months living in Salem at the Oregon Mental Facility. She will be safe and warm in an environment far more comfortable than hers here on the streets. It’s hard to say if Candice even knows where she is or what’s happened to her, but we pray that this intervention will lead to treatment and healing for beautiful 24 year-old child of God.

We are grateful for the way God chooses to move at the Mission. There are great needs all around us, and most are bigger than we can handle on our own. It’s when God moves in these mysterious ways that we truly see His hand.

*name changed for privacy