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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Operation Nightwatch Portland

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Human Services

Mission: Operation Nightwatch is an ecumenical night ministry providing hospitality to promote dignity and community among Portland's neediest.

Results: This year, over 13,000 visits have been made by guests to our downtown or Mobile Hospitality Centers, where we have provided the warmth of human connection along with food, blankets, and warm clothing.

Target demographics: homeless and low-income adults in the Portland, OR, metro area

Direct beneficiaries per year: 2400+

Geographic areas served: Metropolitan Portland, OR

Programs: Weekend Hospitality Center Mobile Hospitality Center Street Hospitality Teams Immersion Program Birthday Nights Comedy Movie Nights Sunday worship services Weekly Bible Studies Monthly day-trips to parks, museums Annual Spiritual Retreat Annual Christmas Party Annual Memorial Service

Community Stories

57 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4 Sean13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a fairly new volunteer with ONW at the downtown location. I was drawn to offer my time as a retired RN at the Sat foot clinic which was just a few hours a month but I wanted to give more time. I was able to offer my RN skills in the evenings as well since they lost their MA volunteer. Because I'm a trained Massage Therapist I offered that as well.
This is a truly non-judgemental and caring non-profit community that sees hospitality as a right and gift for all involved. I try to offer 5-6 chair massages Thurs and Fri while giving basic first-aide and assessments when needed. After a month the feedback has been good by our clients. A true place of hospitality.

2 James88

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I AM A VOLUNTEER IN NORTH PORTLAND WORKING WITH NIGHTWATCH PORTLAND. NIGHTWATCH COMES TO OUR CHURCH WITH THEIR RV MOBILE UNIT AND WORKS WITH OUR COMMUNITY OF NEEDY AND HOMELESS. IT HAS BEEN VERY BENEFICIAL, TO NOT ONLY THOSE SERVED, BUT ALSO ALL VOLUNTEERS WORKING WITH THEM. I PERSONALLY HAVE FOUND THE VERY FRIENDLY REPRESENTATIVE TO BE HELPFUL TO ME. THE RULES WE ALL LIVE BY ARE HELPFUL IN MY OWN LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS AND HAVE HELPED ME OUT OF SOME PROBLEMS AND AVOID HEARTACHES. I FEEL THE NIGHTWATCH ORGANIZATION IS SERVING A VERY NEEDFUL AREAS OF HUMAN NEED AND IS VERY EFFECTIVE IN HOW THEY CONDUCT THAT SERVICE.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Nightwatch is a wonderful place not only for the guest, but also for the volunteer. It gives a space that allows for the breakdown of the barrier between homeless people and those more fortunate. It provided an opportunity for me to learn more about the realities of living on the street, and gave me tools to help understand all people with more grace and dignity.

1 Clarob

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories
2

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I do footcare for the guests of Operation Nightwatch twice a month and have done so for 25 years. It is a very pleasent experience and I have made some very thouhgtful and considerate friends who are guests of Operation Nightwatch. I look forward to going to the center in Portland two Saturdays a month. The staff of Operation Nightwatch sees to my every need and treat the guests with great respect. If you would care to contact me to become a footcare nurse, contact Operation Nightwatch.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Operation Nightwatch-Portland for at least 25 years as both an evening volunteer, bookkeeper, and foot care ministry helping my wife who does the foot care ministry. I have been and continue to be impressed with the way low-income and homeless people are treated with dignity and respect. No one is looked down on who comes to the center or the mobile hospitality center. All are welcome. We offer coffee, tea, water, sandwiches, comedy movie night, birthday night, and bible study times. The number of participants has increased each year that Operation Nightwatch-Portland has been in existance.

Review from Guidestar

1 John155

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Nightwatch is a vital part of the community providing a meal, clean socks and blankets to the lesser fortunate of the community. The RV has had the room in the back turned into a medical exam room which has been a need for those that don't have insurance and can't afford a Dr. visit. Cost of living has increased, property taxes rise as the value goes down. Non-profits like this are vital to the needs of the community just like showers and housing. Every little bit helps when huge cuts are being made.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I used to pass homeless people on the street and walk faster, turn the other cheek and pretend not to notice, I now realize how wrong I was in doing so. Operation Nightwatch is a beautiful organization that works to fight social isolation among Portland's homeless population. We offer basic services for health, nutrition and hygiene, but most of all we offer our time. A majority of people living on the street have no one to talk to, no one to listen to problems and stories, and no one to just carry a decent conversation with. Nightwatch offers a safe and hospitable environment for those in need. I have been a volunteer for about six months and in this time I have learned so much about the power of kindness, hospitality, and a simple smile.

Alex F.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered at Operation Nightwatch on and off for about two years. Operation Nightwatch offers something much more than simply food, coffee, socks, blankets, hygiene products, etc; they offer a warm, safe environment where people can meet, talk, play games, and rest. For most people living outside, this chance to feel warm and safe, seen and heard, is incredibly valuable. Operation Nightwatch is an amazing organization, and the friendships I have made there are deep and long-lasting.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Operation Nightwatch for some months while I was attending University in Portland. I became so close with the individuals that we hosted, that I am still in contact with many of them today, even though I am now living in Sweden. The people that I met at Operation Nightwatch have affected my life in many deep and profound ways, and I am eternally grateful and honored to know them. Operation Nightwatch is a wonderful organization that has a beautiful balance of service and friendship.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a warm caring place for people to come. We go on Sunday afternoon for the service and bring a meal to share afterward.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

we occasionally go the the Sunday eve service and bring a meal. It is a wonderful service.

Review from Guidestar

Shane L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to volunteer at Operation Nightwatch recently with my Mom, who is a volunteer homeless advocate in Los Angeles. We were both impressed with the idea behind Operation Nightwatch, as well as how it was carried out. We both visited a number of other agencies serving the homeless that same day & commented on how much interaction there was between volunteers & guests, how relaxed & calm guests were invited to be, the freedom they had to engage in different conversations and board games & come and go as they wished. There seemed to be an effortlessness in how the night's activities were run; while many other organizations passed out food, socks, toiletries & other goods, guests seemed to know they were there to be served & needn't hurry or be demanding in order to have their needs met. Operation Nightwatch does just that - attentively, respectfully & compassionately attend to eager guests. Nowhere else in the city did I see quite this level of welcome.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My friend and I have volunteered for about 10 years @ Operation Nightwatch. Through this organization we have socialized with people who are homeless @ holiday parties, picnics and Friday evening gatherings. We enjoy every aspect of our time with the people served by Operation Nightwatch from serving sandwiches/snacks/coffee to providing toiletries/socks/blankets. We get to know the people served better by playing games/cards with them as we visit. The communication with the directors and coordinators has been outstanding via email and personal contacts! Portland, Oregon is a better place because of Operation Nightwatch offering an opportunity for citizens to gather and gain a greater understanding of each other. It goes without saying we would not have continued volunteering over the years if we did not believe in Operation Nightwatch.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I have volunteered at Operation Nightwatch for 15 years. We have had wonderful conversations and experiences with our guests. We have served sandwiches, cookies, coffee and offered the hospitality that ALL people deserve - no exceptions! We have had a great experience which is why we continue to volunteer each month. The rewards we feel far surpass the effort it takes to commit an evening for such important work. We believe that love and respect for our neighbors makes a stronger caring community. We practice radical hospitality, and it is an easy stretch! With open hearts and minds, Bonnie and Larry

Allyson F.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a 5 year volunteer at ONW, I can honestly say that I have been really blessed to serve as a hospitality minister to Portland's homeless. The unique vision to offer a sense of belonging, a home so to speak, is amazing to be a part of, as I see positive change in the lives of people who many write of as garbage. I feel absolutely safe and appreciated at ONW, but take very seriously our boundary rules not to form outside relationships with guests. As with anywhere, in a world where evil exists, we all need to find balance with compassion and common sense regarding safety, and make wise choices. As heart wrenching and tragic Niki's murder is, she acted unwisely and in clear violation of the boundaries set up to protect us. I pray Mark will be held accountable and for comfort for her family, as well as for the other volunteers to make better boundary choices, myself included. Nightwatch serves real need in our city in a very positive way; I highly recommend volunteering to experience it for yourself!!:)

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Operation Nightwatch, as a hspitality mininster, for 4 years now. It is an amazing ministry to the homeless in Portland and serving has been hugely rewarding, a true blessing for me as well. The unique vision of Nightwatch, focusing on community building, is wonderful. The guests and volunteers have truly become family to one another, and i am amazed at the ways this has broken barriers and led to deepened sense of self worth and belonging. The "gift" of acceptance and grace that we extend is a great complement to other focused rehab programs that some of our guests attend, and provides a safe space for those that are beyond realistic hope of reintegration. In serving Jesus in this way, I have personally been stretched and enriched in beautiful ways. I look forward to years of conintued involvement with nightwatch-and I can't say enough about our amazing director Gary Davis; his dedication is truly sacrificial, and all of our volunteers!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Nightwatch is a wonderful organization. My husband and I know the leaders, and have provided and served meals. There is not enough good that we can say about the work that they do. They form relationships with people: like friends, like family, like what most of us take for granted. The great majority of the people served are people just like us-less money, less possessions, and somewhere, somehow, their lives took a different turn, BUT as relationships are formed it is revealing to find how many are educated, wise, sensitive, with the same needs for human connection that we all have. A "bad" apple might be found in many bushels, but believe us that is the exception, not the rule.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group provides a safe setting for people who just need to get off the street for a bit. They provide food, a comfortable dry space and acceptance. The visitors can play games, chat, or even just sleep.They are very clear about not exchanging personal information between volunteers and clients and even require attendance at a training session to explain why this is important. The director works very hard to make this place comfortable and safe for both clients and volunteers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered Operation Nightwatch about 10 years ago, shortly after moving to Portland from the Midwest. Since then I've been a regular "first Friday" volunteer. I was about to say that this is 'one of the truly unselfish things' that I do...but then I realized that I get so much back in return from serving the guests that come each evening, I can hardly make that claim.

Operation Nightwatch puts a face on homelessness. Each evening I talk with guests whose lives have taken some awful turns. Some I see every month; and they have become friends. Volunteering here reveals an additional dimension of diversity that I would not experience any other way.

I support this ministry financially as well because I know it is run on a shoestring, and most of money goes to doing good for those we serve. And, because I'm involved as a volunteer, I get to see those dollars doing good every day.

Some say this population of people needs to be pushed toward goals and specific outcomes, like getting a home or finding a job. Nightwatch has different, yet very powerful focus: Building Community and Self Respect! As a student of psychology, I'd label what we offer as the "Carl Rogers approach" to emotional health. When we listen to and affirm others, their inner strength grows. How many of the guests who pass through our doors have moved on to better lives (and have been able to tackle the larger challenges in their lives) because of the self respect that grew from seeds planted and nurtured each evening playing a games, sipping coffee, and just being a part of a safe and caring community.

THANK YOU Operation Nightwatch for making a difference for so many in Portland, and for the chance to know and love people that I'd otherwise look away from.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Nightwatch became a part of my life nine years ago. Since then, I have seen how important this ministry has become in the lives of people newly on the street or having spent a long time there. I now provide a weekly worship and weekly bible study for our folks and find them to be some of the most caring and spiritual people I have ever met. In addition to sharing with each other, they share their meager resources through a weekly offering that supports local food pantries as well as global charities that provide assistance after earthquake, tsunami and hurricane devastation. The success stories of people who have turned away from addictions, who have stayed out of prison, who have gotten into housing and back into employment are too numerous to mention. They mostly will not make the news, but we who volunteer know them very well. It all begins with hospitality and relationship building. No one does it better than Operation Nightwatch.

Waylon S.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Operation Nightwatch, led by Gary Davis, is an excellent program providing hospitality to people that need it. Gary's vision of hospitality has created something truly unique and important.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My name is Samantha. I volunteered Operation Nightwatch, It was an enjoyable time to spend with those less fortunate. Those that are homeless had a chance to sit and relax, enjoyed food and hot drinks. We had a great time playing games and listening to others stories. Operation Nightwatch also supplies those in need with personal hygiene items Movie night seems to be a hit with the guests. One gentlemen there played piano there that night and it is to bad he could not get a job playing in a restaurant setting. The music was wonderful. It was a memorable night and was blessed for the opportunity to be apart of Operation Nightwatch

Samantha

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Nightwatch faithfully meets the needs of the lonely and needy to associate in a generally accepting environment. My experience within the 20+ years has seen related improvements in various clients from its sensitive approach.
Operation Nightwatch volunteers attempt to reach an understanding of both all clients and individual client’s needs to find acceptance. Operation Nightwatch has developed outstanding sensitivity traits of its volunteers and leadership over the life of Operation Nightwatch, through capitalizing on talents to develop better approaches, as these were determined.
In some cases, incisive interest in various individuals has led to some of these men and women to send an emissary from their deathbed thanking the volunteers for making their lives tolerable.
Some clients from learning they were ok but maybe with major life changes could improve their lives on this earth, and have made those choices and returned thanking various volunteers.
Some clients have asked for spiritual assistance which has been available, and because of the ecumenical approach, volunteers approached the issue with a degree of sensitivity knowing another’s way to God, might not tie to their own, but another volunteer or agency could help.
This organization has been successful meeting its goals through sensitivity to its clients and hard work, and though it does not itemize changes in clients, those changes occur, and though it does not itemize the success of treating each person as Gods own, those successes are there as well.