JOIN’s Immersion Coordinator, Daniel, spent months organizing volunteer placements, reviewing applications and coordinating logistics. He and six young adult volunteers (myself, Amanda, Sinclair, Kelly, Jess and Neil) joined the teens in sleeping at St Francis, in inner SE, walking to daily volunteer placements, and abiding by a set of “simple living” guidelines that the whole group decided on.
“Simple living” we decided for the week, would mean challenging ourselves by limiting what we wore to just two outfits, showering once or not at all, eating simply, and a “sleep challenge” on the last night we spent at St. Francis. Originally this last challenge meant giving up a pillow or sleeping pad, but the leaders secretly decided to include a “sweep” at 2:30am. Without warning, we came into the boys’ and girls’ sleeping rooms with flashlights and even a siren yelling “No camping here! move along! you’re in violation of
The Plungers also got to volunteer at 15 organizations around town that serve not just the homeless community, but other marginalized groups. Some examples of where we spent a morning or afternoon working are Downtown Chapel, Dignity Village, Rose Haven, Housing Transitions Program, the Oregon Food Bank, Sisters of the Road Café, and even sorting donations, gardening and hanging out with folks at JOIN. The week was a whirlwind tour of many aspects of homelessness, and we had evening speakers who shared their perspective of working for the Portland Police Department, or p;ear, or JOIN.
Lio came to debrief the large group after their first day of placements. His talk prodded everyone to think about the larger picture of their place in service and solidarity. He shared stories from his 14 years of doing Outreach at JOIN, and challenged the group to learn names, the stories behind the faces, and not to be afraid of making a human connection with people who we’re usually more comfortable avoiding eye contact with. We also got to hear from Marc Jolin who talked about the legal and practical side of homelessness and lack of affordable housing. In discussion afterwards, my small group (named “Jesus! And the Jive Turkeys”) talked about how important it is to have the “big picture” numbers in addition to conversations with folks on the street.
We all came into the Plunge from different places, but we were all challenged and grew together. I heard so many amazing insights come out of my teens, one of which came after a few days of volunteering in
Thank you participants! You all rock. See you at the reunion! Feel free to weigh in here with any memories or comments you want to share!
Getting a tour of "the caves" from a longtime JOIN friend, Buck, who once camped down here.