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Union Gospel Mission reaches out to homeless in heat

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With a mid-week heatwave in the books and summer on the horizon — the outreach work to help the homeless Portland doesn’t stop.

The Union Gospel Mission’s Search and Rescue Team goes out five days a week doing what they can to make those without a roof over their head feel safe and comfortable.

David Smith used to be homeless but now he works with the Union Gospel Mission to help others like him. (KOIN) 

The work holds extra special meaning for David Smith.

“I know how it is, I’ve been out here,” Smith said. “I was homeless out of the Delta Park area for three years.” 

Now Smith is a man on a mission. At his old stomping grounds near Portland Meadows, the team from Union Gospel Mission hands out bags of necessities to those in need.

“This is where I was staying when I came into the Mission,” Smith said. “Just seeing them again — that they’re still breathing, it’s an emotional moment for sure.”

After doing this for nine months, Smith knows how tough it is to keep cool, especially when temperatures soar into the 90s.

“It’s hot, you don’t have enough water. That’s one of the major problems out there,” Smith said. “You can only get so cool, you can only take off so many clothes.”

It’s clear what the team from Union Gospel Mission is doing is having a real impact.

“I dream of these people,” said Jesse Miller, who camps at the site. “I’m here for this every time they show up.”

Smith said no matter the time of year, keeping tabs on some of the homeless people can be hard. They tend to be swept out of where they’re staying on a regular basis.

The Union Gospel Mission said it’s always taking water donations during the warmer months.

More about the search and rescue team

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