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The day center is dedicated to assisting and serving women, children and gender diverse guests.

COURTESY PHOTO: KELLI PENNINGTON - The dining area of Rose Haven day shelter's new facility at 1740 N.W. Glisan St. in Portland.On a rainy late winter morning, about 50 women lined up on a sidewalk in Northwest Portland, looking forward to breakfast, chatting with each other, flanked by flower arrangements.

After two years serving people outside its former location due to the pandemic, Rose Haven day shelter and community center opened its brand new facility at 1740 N.W. Glisan St. on Tuesday, March 8.

The nonprofit is the only day shelter in Portland dedicated to serving women, children and gender-diverse people experiencing homelessness and other traumas.

Rose Haven began as a program of Catholic Charities in 1997 and was established as a nonprofit 10 years later. The new facility is two blocks from Rose Haven's former location in the basement of the First Immanuel Lutheran Church. It's also the former location of World Cup Coffee.

Katie O'Brien, Rose Haven's director, said staff were determined to celebrate the new facility by opening it on International Women's Day.

COURTESY PHOTO: KELLI PENNINGTON - Katie O'Brien, director of Rose Haven day shelter, speaks at a grand opening of the nonprofit's new facililty Tuesday, March 8.Seeing the demand for its services grow for years, the shelter's staff and board searched for a bigger location for a long time, O'Brien said. But as indoor public spaces closed and access to resources decreased during the pandemic, the urgency to relocate increased, she said.

"The pandemic really forced people outside," O'Brien said. "This a place for people to come for safety during the day, it's a place to meet your basic needs. People really rely on us for their survival."

The new 9,700-square-foot facility will allow Rose Haven to double the number of people it serves, which O'Brien says will still be necessary even as COVID-19 cases decrease and public spaces reopen.

It offers laundry facilities, showers, lockers for guests' belongings, mailboxes, a kitchen, dining space for almost 50 people, activity rooms, offices for staff and partner service providers, and a technology room with computers, among other features.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Guests at Rose Haven day shelter share an embrace at the grand opening of the nonprofit's new facility on Tuesday, March 8.A key aspect of Rose Haven's new facility is that it was designed in a trauma-informed way, with calming light pink and purple paint, open spaces, a high ceiling and sound-absorbing lights. The interior promotes a sense of safety, trust, empowerment and healing, O'Brien said. The facility's flower wall murals add to the welcoming atmosphere.

The building's design firm, Gensler Portland, did a substantial portion of its work pro bono, O'Brien said, adding, "It has exceeded our dreams."

The building was financed primarily by individual donors, without public funds, O'Brien said. A $450,000 donation by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust last week pushed Rose Haven over its $3 million capital campaign goal for the new facility, she added. That campaign will pad the 32% increase in operating costs of the building, but the nonprofit will need continued financial support, O'Brien said.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Rose Haven day shelter and community center at 1740 N.W. Glisan St. in Portland was decorated with flowers for its grand opening Tuesday, March 8.With new overnight shelters and affordable housing units being built across the region, Rose Haven occupies an important niche in the community's response to homelessness, she said.

Aside from providing basic needs, the nonprofit seeks to address the drivers of poverty for each guest, she said. Rose Haven advocates provide guests one-on-one support, offering referrals to mental health, addiction and other treatments, employment help, wellness activities, resources for children and sometimes financial aid.

A respite

After thanking a volunteer for a cup of coffee and a plate of food, Katherine Wheeler said she found a community at Rose Haven.

Two and a half years ago, she was forced out of her home and onto the street after being criminally charged following a domestic violence incident.

PMG PHOTO: MAX EGENER - Katherine Wheeler, a guest of Rose Haven day shelter for two and a half years, at the grand opening Tuesday, March 8, of the nonprofit's new facility at 1740 N.W. Glisan St. in Portland.The clothing, mailbox, hygiene resources and medical treatment that Rose Haven provided helped get her life back on track, Wheeler said.

The nonprofit also connected her to an affordable housing provider, and she has lived in an apartment for almost two years, she said.

Wheeler still comes to Rose Haven for support, partly because she's on medical leave from her job at a grocery store where she injured her back, she said.

"When I came here, it was a whole family," Wheeler said. "They all welcomed me with open arms because I didn't have anything."

Providing a sense of community is crucial, said Tracy Lowman, Rose Haven's hospitality coordinator, who added she knows most guests by name, including Wheeler.

"Today is such a big day," Lowman said tearfully. "I feel honored. I feel trusted. It's just such a privilege."

She said a lot of staff at Rose Haven have lived experience with the issues the nonprofit's guests face. Lowman can relate to many of the guests because she has suffered from addiction, she said.

Walking through the facility's clothing shop, which includes a jewelry case and makeup products, Lowman said the value of allowing guests to leave the facility feeling pretty is often overlooked.

PMG PHOTO: MAX EGENER - Tracy Lowman, hospitality coordinator at Rose Haven day shelter, stands in the clothing shop of the nonprofit's new facility.


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