On December 5, 2003, the founding mothers of Rahab's Sisters gathered on SE 82nd Avenue to offer hot coffee to women they met on the streets. Mugs of coffee evolved into a warm meal inside Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church, a safe space that is still our home today. Before there were enough volunteers to maintain regular hours, women knew Rahab's Sisters was open by candles lit in the windows - a warm and welcoming glow on a cold night.
Eventually Rahab's Sisters decided to gather on Friday evenings from 7pm - 10pm. We added a regular stock of hygiene supplies guests can request every week. And we offer community activities, from craft projects and karaoke to haircuts and foot care.
During our first 14 years, Rahab's Sisters was run entirely by volunteers. As guest numbers climbed - fueled by Portland's housing crisis, the booming opioid epidemic, and other factors - our board recognized the need for consistent leadership and raised money to hire our first executive director.
Over the past year, Rahab's Sisters offerings have expanded to include Friday Circle, a therapeutic group where guests can seek support from licensed counselors and each other. We now open at 5pm, collaborating with other organizations that provide powerful resources for our guests, and becoming better known outside of our close-knit volunteer community.