Dan Griffith and his family visited my church on Sunday and shared their amazing story and ministry. They unveiled to us their incredible family-based ministry called "Blanket Coverage" which reaches out to the homeless and needy in the Portland area. I haven't had direct contact with people involved in the other ministries and shelters in the area, but I am convinced that Dan and his family fill a much needed niche in the city and reach a wide range of people that would otherwise remain unnoticed and unloved.
Rather than waiting for the hurting to come to them, the Griffiths go out each night to these people who struggle just to survive on the streets. The name "Blanket Coverage" comes from how they started their ministry, secretly tucking people in at night with a warm blanket. This low key, caring method has had astounding effects, and the Griffiths are widely known in the community for their impact.
The ministry doesn't stop with handing out blankets. Other important sustaining supplies such as socks, shoes, water, meals and shelter are given away en masse. The Griffiths have developed a four year program that helps people get off the streets and into a position where they can experience physical, mental and spiritual restoration. Their care is very far reaching, and they have gained the trust of the homeless community, not an easy feat to achieve.
Perhaps the single reason the Griffiths have such a successful ministry is that they treat each person with dignity, respect, and thoughtful consideration. Rather than handing out generic clothing with good intentions, they try hard to give new and properly sized socks, underwear and shoes. When talking and dealing with the people on the streets, they don't assume anything beforehand about each person or label them on first impressions. Rather, they take the time to listen to everyone willing to share, and they make real family connections, fostering a genuine sense of value in everyone they interact with.
Not every church in Portland has dedicated volunteers to work directly with the homeless people around them, and our church has no such ministry. Rather than starting up such a difficult mission with good intention and possibly doing more harm than good, our church has decided to give our support to Blanket Coverage, a decision many other churches have made in the over 20 years the Griffiths have been serving in Portland.
Hearing how amazingly detail-oriented and sensitive are the considerations in dealing with the homeless, I instantly respected how the Griffiths are able to do what they do. The stories of the lives they have touched are very inspiring, and it helps me remember Christ and the way He interacted with people while on earth. To see each person around us as highly valued before God and worth our efforts is not an easy realization to grasp, unfortunately. Sometimes it takes crystal clear working examples like that one presented by the Griffiths.