Stop by the Burnside Shelter on a Wednesday evening and you might run into Kyle Earlywine. Volunteering in the Guest Relations Office each week, Kyle greets everyone with a kind smile and an eagerness to see each guest facing homelessness get the help they need.
Sometimes it’s answering a call and reassuring someone in distress.
“I’ll get phone calls from people who are just in panic and have no idea what’s going on,” explained Kyle. “They or their loved one just became homeless and they’ve never been in this situation before. So I’ll be their first point of contact.”
In response, it’s helped Kyle uncover a deep love for one of the things that brings him joy.
“I love being able to settle someone, give them the resources, and help them get their game plan together in terms of how they’re going to address the issue and hopefully get off the street.”
He remembers during a dark and lonely time in his own life, hearing a sermon where the pastor said, “People ask me all the time, ‘What’s God’s will for me?’… I do know God’s will for you is to serve others, particularly the poor. That’s God’s will for you and you should be doing it.” Kyle said he was greatly convicted by that message.
That was before he came on as volunteer staff at Portland Rescue Mission six years ago.
“It’s kind of a whimsical story,” he said, as he reflected on how he came to the Mission.
Kyle once worked at a homeless shelter in Denver, Colorado. While he was there he met Tony, the Director of Outreach from Portland Rescue Mission, who was on a shelter tour.
When Kyle moved to Portland, he gave Tony a call.
“Kyle, after I met you,” said Tony, “I wrote your name on a piece of paper and I taped it to my bathroom mirror. I’ve been praying over your name ever since we met that you would call and come in and get connected.”
From that moment on, Kyle has faithfully served every week for the past six years.
Now Kyle sees people through a different lens–through a changed heart. He enjoys the people that come into the Mission. “I think that they’re insightful that they give us windows into humanity that we don’t ordinarily get to see.”
One day a guest came in and said, “You guys are awesome. I just got into housing and it means so much to me that ya’ll have been helping me through my time on the street.”
Kyle says that serving men and women experiencing homeless isn’t for everyone, but he feels there isn’t a better opportunity to live out Matthew 25. “If you like people, you’ll love it. It’s really easy to get involved too.”
Matthew 25: 35-36, 40 …
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” -Jesus