Birthday Surprise

By: Quinn Colling

I met Kris four months ago in NW Portland where she camped with her dog Fox. She was shy at first, hesitant to speak with us but over time began to build up some trust. My coworker Colleen and I began to learn about her story and discovered there was no reason for her to be outside. She had a reliable income, nothing unusual in her background, an honorable discharge from the military, and a strong determination to get off of the streets. Kris had been experiencing homelessness for three years and told us that she had given up on Portland. Colleen and I asked her to let us work with her and attempt to find an apartment. After a month and a half of vigilant searching, Kris found a home for herself and Fox. On move-in day, Fox chose to celebrate and showed off for us by completing a victory lap around the apartment and snuggling up with Kris on the couch.

Just the other day, after three successful months of being in housing, Kris celebrated her birthday. Colleen and I took Kris out to celebrate over a great meal. We enjoyed perhaps the biggest burgers I have seen in my life, including a doggie sized burger for Fox. We shared stories from our lives and laughed for about an hour straight. After the meal was over, Kris shared with us that she had not celebrated her birthday in five years. She told us that we helped her more in three months than anyone had in three years. The shocker, what really took me by surprise, was what she told us next. Kris said that no one had ever taken her out for birthday and that we were now family.


The power of this job never ceases to amaze me. I am incredibly honored that someone would allow us into their life and that JOIN could make such an impact in such a short time. I will be forever grateful for her kind words.