I applied to be on the board so I could futher the mission of this program to we've the marginalized. I have volunteered for about 20 years. The premise is simple, treat people as you would want to be treated if life kicked your feet out from under you and left you flat on the sidewalk. We don't try to change people but we create spaces where they can choose to change and support them in their journey.
I attended an Operation Nightwatch Breakfast last Saturday and learned some amazing things. Operation Nightwatch does not prosletize at their hospitality centers but also do not hide that this is an ecumenical ministry program that seeks to address peoples physical needs with food, clothing, bedding and access to bathroom facilities. They also address social needs by offering a full range of programs including movie nights, monthly outings, Christmas parties and a monthly birthday party. They are concerned about people's intellectural needs and provides a free book cart and stimulating conversations at the hospitality centers. They also seek to address people's spiritual needs through a weekly Bible study which has also become a support group and a weekly worship service that averages 25-30 attendees per week. At this service, they take an offering which is then donated to other programs that serve the low-income and homeless in Portlan. In ten years of faithful giving by these people who most view as having nothing to give, have raised $9900. The most important service Operation Nightwatch provides, is that opportunity for marginalized people to be part of our community in very normal ways. This raises self esteem and opens the door of HOPE.
I have regularly volunteered at Operation Nightwatch since 1993 and served on its Board of Directors since 2003. Our focus at Nightwatch is on hospitality for persons experiencing poverty and homelessness. We operate in the evening when most other social service agencies are closed. For all who are involved in Nightwatch, hospitality is both a means and an end. It is a means insofar as basic respect and caring can help give the people we serve, our guests, renewed strength and self confidence without which they cannot hope to address the condition of their lives. It is an end in itself because it affirms a sense of community and mutual caring that enriches human life.
I have been volunteering at Nightwatch since 1993 and been a board member since 2002. I value Nightwatch because it is about building relationships with people who for one reason or another have become socially marginalized. In an intensely individualistic and competitive society like ours some people inevitably find themselves cast aside either because of their own mistakes and bad choices or because of circumstances beyond their control or because of some combination of the two . Nightwatch accepts people as they are and invites them into a community in which they will be treated with respect so long as they respect others. By providing hospitality and breaking down social isolation Nightwatch can help people gain the strength they need to begin a process of recovery from the indignities of homelessness.