St. Francis Church photo
Visitors at St. Francis dining hall enjoy a Christmas party.
St. Francis Church photo
Visitors at St. Francis dining hall enjoy a Christmas party.
Six days a week, the friendly folks at St. Francis Dining Hall serve a meal to anyone who walks through the door. For 30 years, the hall has been a place of respite for people living without resources, or those who need a warm, safe place to visit while facing life on the streets.

“The mission of St. Francis Parish is one of hospitality, and parish members and staff work hard to make Christian hospitality available to the people who come each day,” said Valerie Chapman, pastoral administrator.

The hall opens for meals on weekdays at 5 p.m., and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. While visitors come for a bite to eat, co-directors Megan Dunning and Becky O’Neil McBrayer often help guide them to additional services.

In the cold days of winter, the hall often extends hours — most warming shelters in the city do not open until 9 p.m., and then close again at 7 a.m.

“Many people who live outdoors are reluctant to enter shelters because of the close quarters but during an extended cold period like the one we are having, people get very tired since staying warm takes a lot of energy,” Chapman said.

During one of the months when need is at its highest, St. Francis hosts its annual Mardi Gras auction on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Melody Ballroom. Tickets are $75, and all proceeds help keep the doors to the hall open longer hours and for more people. The event includes dinner and dancing with musician Reggie Houston in the group Reggie’s Box of Chocolates, with Janice Scroggins and Tim Acott. Houston has roots in New Orleans, and played for 22 years with the Fats Domino Band, but also gigged with big names like the Nevilles, Dr. John and Irma Thomas. He moved to Portland in 2004.
Richard Godfrey runs the St. Francis kitchen, assisted by volunteers who come from the St. Francis community, and other communities throughout the Portland Metro area. Many religious groups as well as school groups come to spend time doing community service at St. Francis Dining Hall.

In recent months, St. Francis has moved the Sunday meal earlier so that the parish worship community can join the dining hall for food and fellowship. On Epiphany, the mealtime included the telling of personal holiday stories, singing and sharing King’s Cake.
“Getting to know the stories of people who are struggling with poverty and isolation has encouraged the parish community to continue learning about and working for economic justice,” Chapman said. “Strong friendships have been forged and some have been life changing.”

For tickets to the auction or for more information about the parish’s work of feeding and sheltering those in need, call 503-232-5880 or email [email protected]