Today is the end of my third week at JOIN doing Outreach Support. I’m one of three Jesuit Volunteers who gets to work here full-time for the next year, and so far it’s been a wonderful whirlwind of getting to know Portland, meeting some incredible folks, and getting over my fear of driving JOIN’s big box truck.
My daily job is unpredictable and involves everything from compliance paperwork, building relationships with folks, outreach on the streets, and a good deal of moving furniture as we get people into housing. I feel so lucky that JOIN was able to create this new position and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!
Yesterday, I got to move Keith, who has been homeless for the past ten years, into an apartment. Keith has helped me move furniture for other families before and I was thrilled that we were able to get him into his own place. The day before he moved in we talked about how excited he was for the privacy and safety that owning a locked door would afford. Keith enjoys cooking and was looking forward to having his own kitchen, so the morning of the move I stopped and bought him a rib eye steak for his first dinner “inside.” “I’m going to be living like a king! Just watch” he said. Keith is trying to find a job and is planning on attending the weekly employment workshops that Melissa will be running at JOIN.
There’s a lot going on in the JOIN office, and construction noise from the remodel next door and structural work on the building is constant background noise. Upstairs, the House is always full of folks stopping by to take a shower, have a cup of coffee or just hang out. Lindsay, Keith, and Daniel, as well as a dedicated group of volunteers and interns keep the place running and a safe space for folks living on the street to relax during the day. We’re lucky to have donations of home-baked goods from volunteers like Paulette & Judy. Last week the House had dozens of made from scratch biscuits and homemade jam. Yet another example of kindness where all I can think is “only at JOIN…”