Operation Nightwatch provides nighttime hospitality for Portland’s unhoused population to promote dignity, community, and social connection.
Homelessness is perhaps the loneliest experience there is. Shunned, rejected, isolated, the homeless individual lives most of his life in social isolation. Whatever other things he may be struggling with besides his homelessness–mental illness or addiction–are only magnified because he feels so terribly alone.
Furthermore, evening is the loneliness time of day. Hungry, cold, and hurting, anyone who needs help but finds everything is closed finds the hours unimaginably long.
Operation Nightwatch recognizes all this. Through our Hospitality Centers we provide not only a safe place where those on the streets can find food, socks, clothing, blankets, and medical care, but also caring staff and volunteers who will listen to the stories and welcome them as friends.
For at least a few hours a few evenings a week, we offer a place where they may feel at home.
Under the leadership of its first director, Gary Vaughan, ONW began as a street ministry, its volunteers approaching houseless people in the doorways, loading docks, and campsites where they were bedded down for the evening. In time, a Hospitality Center was established, to which houseless and other low-income people could gather with others for the evening, socializing, sharing stories, and playing games over coffee and sandwiches. The downtown Hospitality Center has since become the hub of Nightwatch’s activities, from its foot care clinics to its monthly Birthday Nights and Comedy Movie Nights. It also is a place where people can be supplied with blankets, clothing, and personal hygiene items at a time of day when no other helping agency is open.