Homeless women known at Burnside Shelter’s ‘Friday Flicks’

"Friday Flicks" at the Guest Care Center

“Friday Flicks” at the Guest Care Center

At Portland Rescue Mission, our Hope Ministries are about more than just meals, bathrooms and showers. Although all of those services are vital at the Burnside Shelter, they are only a part of the journey to a better future for our guests. Another way the staff and the women in Connect partake in that journey is through Friday Flicks.

Every Friday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Guest Care Center at the Burnside Shelter is reserved exclusively for female guests. Providing reprieve from living on the streets, “Friday Flicks’ has become a time of rest and relaxation for the women that come and participate. “Friday Flicks’ serves as another opportunity to hand out clothes, snacks, hygiene kits, and make known our services available via Portland Rescue Mission while providing an additional outlet for the women through relationship and connection.

Connect closet at Burnside Shelter

Connect closet at Burnside Shelter

“We use ‘Friday Flicks’ to build community and show the women that there really are people out there who care about them,” said Gina, a Connect participant. “And it is really not hard to care about these women because a lot of them are just real sweet people who were hit with bad luck.

“This gives them a nice break and a chance to slow down for a moment and enjoy.”

“Friday Flicks” started back in October when it was just beginning to get chilly outside. Since its inception, anywhere from 10 to 30 women will show up from week to week. At one point during winter, the Guest Care Center had as many as 60 women show up to a movie. Many of those same women will also eat meals in the cafeteria.

“A little while ago, there was a lady I met at ‘Friday Flicks’ that said when she was on the streets, she felt like she became invisible. People would look right through her and wouldn’t even look at her,” Gina said. “Part of what we do to counter that is just being us, and saying ‘Hello … How you doing?’ It gives them a sense of identity.”

Deanne Gillock, the Women’s Connect Program Manager, further describes Gina’s point. “Many women will come back week after week, and it’s pretty neat because we’ll give them nametags and be able to start really building relationships with them.”

She continued, “And that’s part of the dignity of the whole thing. They get a name and know they are cared for. Everyone has a name.”

In one particular poignant moment, Deanne went on to describe a time when the women of Connect rallied around Mary. On a cold, very rainy Friday, the item of the day that was being given out was coats. Wearing just a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, Mary came into the Guest Care Center shaking from the frigid conditions outside. One woman from Connect spotted her and immediately jumped into action. Sprinting upstairs, the woman grabbed some of her own clothes and came down just as quickly to cover Mary up and keep her warm. It was a memorable moment for everyone.

Mary smiles at the Burnside Shelter

Mary smiles at the Burnside Shelter

“The Connect women understand that many of the women coming to ‘Friday Flicks’ are forgotten and feel hopeless. They want to show each woman they matter,” Deanne reiterated.

And like Deanne said, and Mary will corroborate, regardless of what happens the rest of the week, when Friday morning hits, these women matter, and they know it.

Connect is a three-to-four month program that houses up to 36 men and 16 women.