In August, the youth of St. Michael’s will have the opportunity to volunteer with Operation Night Strike, a volunteer humanitarian program that began in Portland 14 years ago. Started by Marshall Snider in 2003, Operation Night Strike began when he felt called to wash the feet of strangers at Skidmore Fountain. Over the years, this simple act of kindness has evolved into one of the premier volunteer organizations in Portland, mobilizing over 10,000 volunteers annually to meet the needs of Portland’s homeless community where they are.
On Thursday nights, volunteers meet at Liberation Street Church on the corner of SW Second and Burnside for orientation and get station supplies ready. They then go underneath the Burnside Bridge to provide several services and to help meet the felt needs of the population there. These services range from providing hair-cutting, food and clothing to information and resources and getting their feet washed. Operation Night Strike also has community partnerships with various businesses and organizations such as various restaurants that provide food and with Medical Teams International who come down one to two times per month with medical and dental services.
The mission for the organization that now runs Operation Night Strike, Hope Northwest, is, “Putting hope within reach because people matter.” The real point of Night Strike is developing relationships. It’s one thing to give money to charity, but it’s another to actually sit and share a meal and conversation with someone who you might otherwise pass on the street. A success at Night Strike is getting to know someone’s name and story. What some volunteers like most about this program is that it forces them to get out of their comfort zones and engage with people who one would usually simply pass by.
After the youth mission trip, it was thought that volunteering with Night Strike would be a good way to apply the lessons that the youth learned on their trip here at home. Operation Night Strike is very popular with church youth groups, some of whom travel across the country to participate. Read more about this important program here.