PORTLAND -- In Portland’s Northwest neighborhood, a quiet women’s shelter welcomes the homeless without question or judgment.
“This is gonna sound corny but Rosehaven has a very loving vibe to it,” said Patsy Child.
At 59 years old, Patsy is proud of pulling her life together relatively recently. She lived in shelters and on the streets of Portland for three years. She can not say enough about the way volunteers and staff at Rosehaven helped her regain her dignity.
“You have to remember that life is still good. That's there's a reason to overcome your obstacles. It's you know, not enough to just to exist. You know that's too depressing to live that way. So they, just in the way they are, they remind you of the beauty of human beings," she said.
Rosehaven opened 15 years ago after a Catholic nun named Sr. Cathie Boerboom literally walked the streets of Portland and asked homeless women what they needed.
“I love what I do,” Sr. Cathie said. “I was made for this. Seriously, I know this past many years that's why I'm here. That's what I'm called to do," she said.
Rosehaven has a simple mission statement: offering a sanctuary from the street, along with compassion, practical help and community to women and children who are homeless. That means workers will help with whatever needs the women have; from food, to mental health counseling, help paying for medications, doctors, clothing and the list goes on. It does not offer overnight lodging.
Sr. Cathie said despite the stories of heartbreak she often hears from clients, there are victories. “There's sad pieces but watching people respond to love, watching them move from hopelessness to ‘maybe the options that belong to other people belong to me, too...’ We set that up from the environment we created together. Watching that happen is something there are no words for," she said.
One of the program’s star graduates is 58-year-old Virginia Noggle. She credits Rosehaven with helping save her life. “I wouldn’t be here standing next to you, at all. I wouldn’t be here. I just would not be here. Because the life I was leading was a road to death," Noggle said.
She ran away from home at the age of 12 and began a life of drugs and sex and crime. She’d visited Rosehaven but it wasn’t until she was hit by a bus in 2001 that she decided to change her life.
She returned to Rosehaven once she got out of the hospital and asked for help. Sr. Cathie and the shelter helped Noggle find her spirit and her life again.
“Oh definitely. Because they not only fed, clothed and helped me but it was unconditional. It was um, without condemnation. It was with tenderness and loving kindness and humility. They were very humble. Very good people. And it blew my socks off how they treated me," said Noggle.
Want to learn more? Click here to view the Rosehaven website.