Saturday, December 6, 2014

Interview with Father Dan

The following is a short interview with Father Dan, a man who evenings Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays feeds people living on the streets in Northwest Portland beneath the I-405 freeway and in the industrial area, along with his son John. He also hands out socks, blankets, and other necessities and comforts whenever he has them. While until recently I've only sporadically partaken in his dinners — which range from pizza and Jack in the Box chicken sandwiches to home-made soup and the coveted last-Friday fried chicken — I've always been impressed with his hands-on personal dedication to helping the poor and the homeless; a far cry from the impersonal institutional approach offered by most charities and social services. I was pleased when he agreed to answer some questions, which I typed out and gave him to answer at his leisure, busy man that he is.

  • How long have you been doing this?
    • Over twenty-eight years. My wife and I began in August of 1986; Johnny was five and Joey two.
  • Why do you do this? Is there any specific reason?
    • Besides be[ing] the right thing to do, we have the right temperament. It also what we view as the highest form of worship.
  • You're called Father Dan. Are you a pastor of a church or congregation?
    • After completing my m.Div. (Master of Divinity) we were commissioned to the street and made a vow to stay, and so I was assigned the title of Father.
  • What do you think are the three main reasons people are chronically homeless?
    • Mental illness
    • Economical
    • Criminal behavior
  • What three things do you think can be done to best help alleviate homelessness and poverty?
    • A change of government [policies], taking an aggressive role in [addressing] the three primary causes of homelessness.
    • God's people [Christians] to shift their revenue from buildings and properties to [ministering to and assisting] people in poverty.
    • Creative methods of employment, allowing a place for those struggling.
  • What one piece of advice would you offer anyone living on the streets?
    • Get on every [housing] list, apply for every form of assistance, and never give up. Eventually you have to trust someone to help you through this process; keep trying until you do.
  • On a more frivolous note, what's YOUR favorite soup?
    • Home-made chicken noodle. The way our volunteers make it with home-made noodles.

1 comment:

  1. What an inspirational figure Father Dan is! I agree with his suggestions on creative methods of employment as well as getting more people to shift their focus on assisting those who are struggling with poverty.

    It would be nice if more people were open to Father Dan's ideals; he sure did inspire me with his answers, and you asked all the right questions.