Portland Mission Trip Touches Lives

Not just the homeless gained blessings

By: Becky St. Clair

Victor Shepherd, sophomore engineering major, accepts thanks from a homeless man in Portland after giving him a homemade scarf.

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, 24 WWU students and two staff sponsors participated in the second annual mission trip to Portland, Ore.  

While there, the group worked for the Portland Rescue Mission and were able to assist at each of their four facilities: Burnside Shelter for Men, Shepherd’s Door (for women and children), their warehouse for clothes and food, and Next Step, a transitional home for men, where the bulk of their work was done.

“It’s always amazing to me when college students sacrifice their free time when many of their friends are taking time off at home or going snowboarding, things like that,” says Paddy McCoy, WWU Chaplain and trip sponsor.  “These students worked hard over the weekend to help a great organization that is significantly impacting the lives of the homeless in Portland.”

At the shelter, the students did maintenance and improvement projects the regular facility workers don’t have the time or resources to do themselves.  

In addition to their work there, they also took donated blankets, hats, and scarves, and walked the streets of Portland, giving these vital items to the city’s many homeless.

“I loved watching the students interacting with the homeless,” says McCoy.  “Many of them prayed with each individual they came across.  Others also sat down on the sidewalk and just chatted with them, got to know their names, and listened.”

McCoy commented that the homeless are used to being overlooked and ignored.  To be given individual attention is a phenomenal experience for them.

Ruth Sevison, sophomore education major, recalls speaking with a man named Luis as he drank his coffee at the mission.  She asked him if she could pray for him and if he had any special requests.

“He asked if I could pray for him to find the joy God wanted to give him that day,” says Sevison.  “Since then, I have made that request my own prayer.  This mission trip brought me to a new level in understanding others, and I will always remember the lessons I learned.”

McCoy plans on continuing the tradition with another Portland mission trip in 2010.

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