Operation Nightwatch Board of Directors
The following individuals serve as our Board of Directors:
- Curtis Thompson, M.D., CTA Lab
- Leah Hollingshead, mental health worker (retired)
- Claudia Roberts, SAIF (retired)
- John Hoover, attorney (retired)
- Judy Johnson, attorney (retired)
- Amanda Tabaka-Fernandez, actor
- Eric Dahlin, Davis Wright Tremaine
- Melissa Bensink, Veterans Administration
- Waylon Spoden, Organically Grown Company
- Ciara Pressler, Pressler Collaborative
- Juliana DePietro, Airbnb
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.
Health Care Coordinator
Sean Meehan, R.N., serves as our Health Care Coordinator. Sean came to us after having retired from a 35-year career in Home Health and Hospice nursing and management. Sean says he was drawn to ONW by our commitment to the "compassionate path" , a road he has been traveling his whole adult life. Sean's other interests include Metaphysics, psychic healing as a Reiki Master, and singing tenor with ISING Choir of Beaverton. Sean says working for ONW has been one of the most rewarding nursing experiences of his career.
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."
Mission & Vision
Homelessness is perhaps the loneliest experience there is. Shunned, rejected, isolated, the homeless live most of their lives in social isolation. Whatever other things they may be struggling with besides homelessness--e.g. unemployment, physical disability, mental illness, or addiction--are only magnified because they feel 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 their 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. In addition to downtown, a Hospitality Center is now operating in SE Portland.