Enjoying a meal down at the Burnside Shelter does wonders for people who are experiencing homelessness. In fact, for many people that are struggling, it’s that hot meal that is one of the only things that sustains them, giving them that one constant in a life filled with uncertainty.
It also does something special for the people that get the blessing of serving those meals.
“Serving here feeds your soul, and that’s why our staff was so excited to come back and be a part of ‘Serving Hope,’” said Melissa Adams, Marketing Coordinator for Harry’s Fresh Foods. “We have so much, and the ability to pass some of that on is really satisfying.”
“Serving Hope” is our annual kickoff to the holiday season at the Burnside Shelter where we feed around 500 people, and invite individuals off the streets and into the Guest Care Center to share in an exquisite dinner with us, complete with classy tablecloths, festive decorations, and most importantly, good fellowship.For someone like Melissa, it also hit close to home—conjuring up memories from years past, and bringing her back to a time and place she too experienced once.
“I was homeless many years ago, and so I understand how easily that can happen and how hard it is to get out of once you’ve found yourself there,” Melissa explained. “It’s scary. Especially when you suddenly experience not knowing where you’re going to sleep, or lose the comfort of knowing what you’re going to eat that day. It’s quite frightening … stressful and tiring.”
Echoing that sentiment was a guest named David, who found his way to Portland Rescue Mission to join the event. After hearing from someone in his community that the Mission was still serving food, David hurried across the Burnside Bridge as quickly as his artificial hip would allow him to in hopes of grabbing a meal before the food was done being served. He made it there just in time.
Crying over the fact he could finally sit down and enjoy his hot meal, David minced no words, “Everything was wonderful, and I really appreciated it.”
After gathering himself enough to continue talking, David went on to rave about his enjoyment of eating a meal at the Mission, and heaped praise on the “excellent customer service” he received from Harry’s Fresh Foods along with all the other crews that serve regularly. “This is a very peaceful place to eat dinner.”
As Melissa continued to reflect on what her and the Harry’s crew were able to do that night, she again harkened back to her past experiences with being in a similar place as David.
“When I was coming out of being homeless, I had lost the ability to interact with, what I would call ‘normal people.’ And that part of the transition is just as important as the food itself,” she explained. “Not just that I am helping you have something to eat, but that my personal interaction with the guests means a lot as well.
“It’s enriching in so many ways.’
Melissa then summed up her and her team’s experience by talking about why they hosted “Serving Hope” for a second year in a row.
“People were so grateful for our being here, and we were so grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “…It was so touching how thankful they were that we had spent our time coming down here to feed them. I got a lot of hugs.”
With your financial support, we serve over 330,000 meals each year throughout the Mission. On a daily basis, this breaks down to about 950 each and every day, and costs us only $1.60 per meal for our guests. We serve breakfast and dinner at our Burnside Shelter everyday during the week, and includes lunch on the weekends.