Avamere team member serving the homeless at 2019 Project Homeless Connect event in Beaverton, Oregon

February 5, 2019

A young girl opened her bag and smiled excitedly at her mother. “Mommy, look!” she exclaimed. “I have toothpaste!”

To many people, toothpaste seems like an ordinary, everyday item. But this wasn’t the case for this young child – she and her mother were homeless.

Devoting a day to the homeless

Three team members from Avamere Rehabilitation of Beaverton spent an entire day serving the homeless.

The team included:

  • Ami Morris, Resident Care Manager
  • Bobbie Loomis, Director of Nursing
  • Tonia Clark, Administrator

Organized by Project Homeless Connect and the Shelter at Orenco Station, agencies, businesses, and nonprofits gathered together to provide much-needed resources for those experiencing homelessness. This included meals, clothing, hygiene items, and services like medical care, haircuts, and employment counseling. This year’s event even had a meditation room.

The Avamere team completed basic wellness checks including taking vitals, temperature, and heart rate.

“I think more than anything, people just wanted someone to talk to,” Ami said. “Most people were not super interested in what their vitals were, but they really enjoyed sitting there for a few minutes and connecting with us.”

I think more than anything, people just wanted someone to talk to.

After her services, many visitors told Ami, “Thank you for the smile. It means more than you know.”

A heartbreaking and heartwarming experience

Ami and Tonia both shared how heartwarming and eye-opening this experience was.

One father brought in his three young kids, a boy and twin girls. They had just recently lost their home and were living in their car. Despite their hardships, the father stayed positive.

As Ami took this man’s vitals (and for fun, pretended to take the kids’ vitals), she realized these are real families being affected, not just what people typically see as stereotypical homelessness.

“It’s really eye-opening and heartbreaking,” Ami said.

Both Ami and Tonia shared how fortunate their families are. In fact, part of what inspired Ami to serve the homeless was to show her kids what it really means to help others. She wanted to give back to the community in a way other than writing a check.

Tonia also enjoyed serving and is already looking forward to next year’s event.

“I am always looking for ways to give back, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so,” Tonia said. “It was the most humbling experience I have had in a long time.”

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