Operation Nightwatch Board of Directors
The following individuals serve as our Board of Directors:
- David Groff, college administrator (retired)
- Douglas Davidson, PetCo
- Curtis Thompson, M.D., CTA Lab
- Bergen Allee, Lexus of Portland
- Leah Hollingshead, mental health worker (retired)
- Claudia Roberts, SAIF (retired)
- John Hoover, attorney (retired)
- Carolyn Norton, Oregon Law Center
- John Hardy, M.D., private practice
- Amanda Tabaka-Fernandez, actor
- Eric Dahlin, Davis Wright Tremaine
- Melissa Bensink, Veterans Administration
Gary Davis has been associated with Nightwatch since he moved to Oregon in 1986, serving as one of Nightwatch’s original volunteer street ministers. Back then, he was serving his calling as a parish pastor in the United Church of Christ. After serving parishes for 29 years, he retired in 2005, took a hiatus in the wilderness of the Washington Cascades for 15 months, and upon returning to Portland was hired by Nightwatch as Executive Director. He’s seen enough of life to be very forgiving of human foibles–mostly because he possesses enough of them himself.
Mikaila Smith serves as Assistant Director. A student in social work at Portland State University, Mikaila holds primary responsibility for overseeing and coordinating our outreach outside downtown. That includes our work with the Mobile Hospitality Center and our SE Hospitality Center, as well as networking with those in other parts of the metro area, exploring possibilities for extending Nightwatch's work elsewhere. She also assists and fundraising and other support activities.
Jackie McCook serves as our Program Coordinator. In that capacity she supervises the activities at our Downtown Hospitality Center. Jackie comes to us as a member of Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, having majored in psychology.
Chaplain Roger Fuchs is a nine-year volunteer with Operation Nightwatch. He received his theological education at Western Seminary in Portland and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Roger continues to work in general aviation engineering during the week. He and his wife Jean have been Portlanders for 32 years and consider it home. Writing, motorcycling, photography and hiking in the outdoors are Roger's favorite pastimes. "When I came to Nightwatch, I fell in love with the people," Roger says; "and I keep coming back because of the people."
Noel Chen serves as Program Assistant at our Downtown Hospitality. Noel is a sophomore at the University of Portland, intending to enter the field of social work. As Program Assistant, she helps with distribution of socks, blankets, and food and following the guidance of our Program Coordinator, fills in wherever else there is need.
Juliana DePietro began volunteering at our Downtown Hospitality Center two years ago when she was a sophomore at Lewis & Clark College. Now a senior, Juliana has joined us as an intern, assisting in many behind-the-scenes projects, including fundraising, volunteer cultivation, and our Health Care Initiative. She majors in psychology.
Mission & Vision
Homelessness is perhaps the loneliest experience there is. Shunned, rejected, isolated, the homeless individual lives most of his life in social isolation. Whatever other things he may be struggling with besides his homelessness--mental illness or addiction--are only magnified because he feels so terribly alone.
Furthermore, evening is the loneliness time of day. Hungry, cold, and hurting, anyone who needs help but finds everything is closed finds the hours unimaginably long.
Operation Nightwatch recognizes all this. Through our Hospitality Centers we provide not only a safe place where those on the streets can find food, socks, clothing, blankets, and medical care, but also caring staff and volunteers who will listen to the stories and welcome them as friends.
For at least a few hours a few evenings a week, we offer a place where they may feel at home.
Under the leadership of its first director, Gary Vaughan, ONW began as a street ministry, its volunteers approaching the homeless in the doorways, loading docks, and campsites where they were bedded down for the evening. In time, a Hospitality Center was established, to which the homeless and other low-income people could gather with others for the evening, socializing, sharing stories, and playing games over coffee and sandiwches. The downtown Hospitality Center has since become the hub of Nightwatch's activities, from its foot care clinics to its monthly Birthday Nights and Comedy Movie Nights. It also is a place where people can be supplied with blankets, clothing, and personal hygiene items at a time of day when no other helping agency is open.
Operation Nightwatch is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, governed by a Board of Directors. The work of its second Executive Director, Debbie Coppenger, did much to set Nightwatch on a stable institutional and fiscal footing. Operation Nightwatch continues to be funded primarily by individual donations, along with some small foundation grants. ONW also receives critical volunteer and monetary support from a roster of churches ranging across the theological spectrum. ONW is a member of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.
Our current Executive Director, Gary Davis, has expanded the vision of Nightwatch. He has revived the street ministry in a renewed form--Street Hospitality Teams well-trained crews who connect positively with people who cannot or will not access the Hospitality Center itself. He inaugurated the Mobile Hospitality Center, enabling Nightwatch to extend the work of hospitality to homeless clusters located outside the downtown core. He has also overseen expansion of Nightwatch's outreach to the city's East Side. A second Hospitality Center opened in SE Portland in December, 2011.
Operation Nightwatch is a non-sectarian night ministry of friendship and community
that has been serving Portland’s street population since 1981.
Whereas other agencies exist to provide services such as housing, food, and clothing to the homeless, low-income, and mentally ill, ONW’s unique vision is that these populations also suffer from simple social isolation. Our simple mission is to reach out to them, nurturing relationship.
We welcome each person who comes to us, just as they are. No one is required to conform to any particular belief or faith practice in order to receive our services.
VIDEO: "Introducing Operation Nightwatch"