A Portland nonprofit is marching to its own beat in an effort to reach out to homeless in the city.
Horns for the Homeless held its fifth biannual outreach event Sunday afternoon — offering free music, food, clothing and dental care.
“It allowed us to introduce this empathy piece and warm people up,” Co-President Kevin Rankin said of the music. “(People are) part of something that was very special and happy and positive. They get to sing and dance and learn about ways they can get themselves into a better situation.”
Benjamin Hopkins said he recently moved to Portland with little more than a tank-top and flip-flops. He’s been trying to navigate homelessness for the first time in his life: an accident left him unable to do the technical directing job he’d been doing for years.
His marriage then fell apart, he said, adding he then became bankrupt and spiraled down a path of self-destruction. He’s trying to fix all that and get his teeth fixed too.
"It’s been a couple years,” Hopkins said. “I’m big on the idea of not being homeless — this was supposed to be temporary.”
But getting back on his feet hasn’t been easy.
“The hardest part about being homeless is the littlest thing takes all day — like a shower take all day,” Hopkins said. "Laundry is a all-day event, so my weekend is pretty much done -- and I work during the week.”
It’s free services all in one places — like Horns for the Homeless -- that makes the difference, Hopkins said. Being homeless is tough, but Hopkins thinks Portland is more friendly.
“If there’s a place to do it — it’s this city — there’s other places you wouldn’t want to be homeless,” Hopkins said.