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MLA ’20 Service Project: Rahab’s Sisters

What makes Rahab’s Sisters unique is the concept of radical hospitality. Rahab’s Sisters’ core mission is creating community for women and gender nonconforming folks “marginalized by poverty, houselessness, sex work, violence and substance use.” Community is a need that is often overlooked by other services, yet it is essential to everyone’s sense of self-worth and well-being.

Rahab’s Sisters started on Portland’s 82nd Avenue in 2003, when the founding mothers offered hot coffee to women they met on the street. One of the longest streets in Portland, 82nd Avenue is the northern end of Cascade Highway, and, although schools, parks, and community centers are sited along it, the area is also economically depressed and dotted with adult entertainment establishments. Sex work and drug activity are not uncommon. The need for compassionate services along the 82nd Avenue corridor is great.

Since those early coffee cup days, the organization was invited by Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church to offer a safe space to those in need every Friday from 5:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. Rahab’s Sisters are staffed primarily by trained volunteers, who provide compassionate listening and human connection. As the needs of the community became more acute and guest numbers climbed with time, the organization was able to hire 2 counselors. The counselors are available every Friday to lead a therapeutic group and to help guests who may be battling severe mental health and social crises, such as domestic violence or suicidality.

Community is still at the core of what Rahab’s Sisters provide. Yes, anyone can find hygiene supplies or receive haircuts and foot care here, but the biggest impact comes from the fact that anyone can walk in through the door and without judgment, questions, or referral and receive a hot meal and companionship. Guests are invited to participate in conversation, arts and crafts projects, and even karaoke. Here, they feel unconditionally accepted and loved. Feeling valued has helped some of the guests make changes to improve their overall sense of well-being. For many of the guests, Rahab’s Sisters have become their community. As one guest said, “This is the only place I come where people are happy to see me. Everywhere else, I’m a problem.”

You can donate in various ways:

  • Donate via MLANET: Monetary donations can be made to Rahab’s Sisters via MLANET. MLA will collect your donations through August 31, 2020, and forward them to Rahab's Sisters.
  • Donate via Amazon: Needed items can be donated by going to Rahab’s Sisters Amazon Wishlist.
  • Donate while you shop online: Select Rahab’s Sisters as your charitable organization on AmazonSmile, and the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to Rahab’s Sisters at no additional cost to you. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know, same products, same prices, same service. Sign up now.
  • Donate by mail: You can mail checks (made out the Rahab’s Sisters) to P.O. Box 90234, Portland, OR 97290.

Visit the Rahab’s Sisters website to learn more.

Follow Rahab’s Sisters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Register for the MLA ’20 vConference.

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