Straightway Services: Healing the community takes heart

Fifteen years ago, Pastor Dwight Minnieweather was invited to tour the communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. He was deeply impacted by what he saw and knew that he wanted to take action—to make a difference in his little corner of the world in Portland, Oregon. This trip inspired him to start Straightway Services.

Pastor Minnieweather and his wifeA Portland native, Minnieweather has lived in the region his whole life. He recognized the need for support for families and young people, especially those navigating the impacts of childhood trauma.

“When your spirit is hurt, the head follows,” said Minnieweather. “When we think about why a kid isn’t doing well in school and it turns out they’re tired, or they’re hungry, or they saw their mamma get slapped by their boyfriend earlier that morning, these things weigh on kids and hold them back. At Straightway Services, we try to lift people up and help them heal. Our work impacts whole families.”

The programs at Straightway Services have evolved over the years. First starting with a youth basketball camp, then growing to a Summer Works program with the City of Portland Water Bureau, and more recently they have expanded into services for Portland’s growing houseless population.

“When I first started going out to some of the tent cities, I was focused on the nurturing piece,” said Minnieweather. “I’d bring food and blankets and other items. But, as time went on and the camps continued to grow, I realized that we needed to do more. That’s when we began to focus on outreach and finding odd jobs for the folks living there. It has made a tremendous difference for folks, even helping them transition to more permanent living situations.”

As a result of the impact this work has had, Pastor Minnieweather’s team is launching a program to engage small cohorts of houseless Portlanders in a program that will pay them to help clean up the community. The first cohort hopes to have 15 participants. So far, they have 12 committed to the program.

“I want to give people a way out and take care of our city along the way,” said Minnieweather. “People are standing up for everything, but no one is standing up for the place we live. I’ve seen this program clean up streets and help get our neighbors on a better path. I hope that folks in the community come and see what this is all about.”

And you can come and see. Straightway Services’ Reclaim Oregon event takes place this Saturday, July 10 from 1-4 pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square. This event will kick off the program and introduce the first cohort to the community. 

Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland OregonCareOregon’s Connect to Care team will be there providing assistance for anyone looking to enroll on the Oregon Health Plan or any current members of ours that need help understanding their benefits. 

See you at the Square!