Portland Rescue Mission expands community outreach at Burnside Shelter

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Men in the Link program chat before lunch.

At the Burnside Shelter, there’s never a dull moment.

While it’s often bustling with guests eating warm meals, grabbing a safe night’s sleep, or taking their recovery to the next level with our Connect programs, something is always happening at Portland Rescue Mission. But for Regina Somboonsiri, and the rest of the staff at the Burnside Shelter, the opportunity to offer even more valuable services to their guests was simply too enticing.

“What was happening before was that after breakfast, there was some hours of the day our chapel was sitting empty,” Somboonsiri said. “So we’ve been really trying to utilize our space by seeking out partnerships within our community that can come alongside us and help us offer our guests even more resources.”

And outside of Mondays and Wednesdays, this is exactly what they’ve been doing.

Chapel space at the Burnside Shelter

Chapel space at the Burnside Shelter

For an hour and a half or so every Tuesday after breakfast, for example, the Burnside Shelter has become a permanent home for the Share & Care House. Share & Care House is a payee service that helps individuals who are incapable of managing their finances. Since many of the guests utilize them to receive their money and pay any bills they might have, it has given Portland Rescue Mission yet another opportunity to engage more guests and let them know what other services are available.

Later that day, at 12:30 p.m., the Shelter also hosts a weekly AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting. It’s an open meeting for both men and women.

Thursday, on the other hand, has become more of what Somboonsiri calls a “health resource day.” Care Oregon heads up much of these efforts by helping guests with insurance issues. They’ll help guests get lined up with a primary care physician and other health-related logistics.

The Health Resilience Team has also joined Portland Rescue Mission’s efforts on Thursday. Where Care Oregon might line any of Portland Rescue Mission’s guests in need up with insurance and a primary care doctor, the Health Resilience Team helps make sure they know how to navigate the medical landscape. They help direct those in need to the right place at the right time by helping them distinguish more immediate ER needs from less pressing health issues. Social workers from OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) are also available.

Friday has become a day for women guests, specifically.

Between “Friday Flix,” where women can watch a movie and eat some snacks with one another, and a women’s clothing closet, the Burnside Shelter has become a very safe and secure gathering place for women to feel cared for.

Church services are held on both Saturday and Sunday.

Outside some of these gatherings, Somboonsiri and the Burnside Shelter staff have also been in the process of organizing more informal opportunities at or around the 2 p.m. hour, when showers are being offered.

regi-somboonsiri

Regi Somboonsiri

“We’ll often set up round tables and encourage the guests to engage with one another,” Somboonsiri said. “We’ve put on things like karaoke days, game days, and even news days where our guests will watch CNN or something and then turn off the TV and have a community discussion.”

The Burnside Shelter hopes to eventually fill up Mondays and/or Wednesdays with some job fair opportunities as well.

At Portland Rescue Mission, we strive to be the best stewards possible of your generous support. And as we continue to plow ahead into more opportunities, one of our prayers is to find new ways to utilize the space God has blessed us with. Thanks for being a part of that journey and allowing us the opportunity to reach more and more guests with hope and direction in their lives.