There are people without hope, without homes, who need your help.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's most recent report, Oregon had the second highest percentage of unsheltered homeless in the country and the third highest rate of homelessness. Unwilling to accept these facts without responding, in 2017 Union Gospel Mission of Salem launched the exciting new Search and Rescue Outreach. Designed to take assistance outside the walls of the mission, the Search and Rescue team hits the streets to minister and give aid to homeless men and women sheltering in tents and abandoned buildings around Polk & Marion Counties.
Bruce Donahue, Search & Rescue Coordinator and his staff partner Michael, bring a unique experience to this important outreach as they both have been there.
The purpose of Search and Rescue, Bruce tells us, is to build relationships and trust with our homeless neighbors. That often begins with a cup of coffee, blankets or warm clothing. “To start the day, we’ll heat up several thermoses of coffee, get some coffee cups and load the van,” says Bruce. “We’re going out there and making real friends among the people.”
Beyond that, he says, “We are offering them an opportunity to come to our shelters or connect them with the right resources.” Often, the Search & Rescue team will be seen dropping off men and women at the Men’s Mission or Simonka Place for a warm meal and a hot shower.
“I lived on these streets for a long time,” Bruce says. “I was those people, I understand their struggles. I feel like I found a way out through the grace of God and I want to point them to that.”