Lost and Found: One Person’s Misadventure Becomes Another’s Reunion


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By: Officer Jill M Burr—Five to the Seven

It was a cold rainy day on November 30th, 2022 and I was out on the corner of Third and Everett where I was flagged down by one of our houseless folks. 

He had come to me looking for some warm clothes, a tarp and a tent. I was low on supplies and was only able to provide a tarp and some socks for him. 

While we were speaking a lady approached me and asked if she could show me a picture of her daughter that has been missing and living on the Portland streets for five years. 

She showed me the picture and I did in fact recognize her. I had helped her many months ago but since then I hadn’t seen her. I told her I would put out a message in our team chat and I would make sure our team keeps an eye out for her. She told me since the city had been sweeping tents she has not been able to locate her. She had a regular spot where she was staying but it had been months since she had seen her. She spends every chance she can get to leave Washington state and come down to Portland to search the streets for her baby girl.

She said when she comes she brings warm clothes, blankets and food to pass out to the houseless as she searches for her kiddo. She told me she would be spending the day searching the city for her and handing supplies out. I told her I would reach out as soon as I found something out. 

Shortly, after posting the BOLO in team chat one of our downtown officers messaged in and said, “I ran into her by 230 Ash 2 weeks ago, she was with an older male adult 40’s FYI they had a little hand gun.”

I immediately sent a text to the mom of the missing kiddo. 

The mom said,”Thank you so much and I appreciate it and please keep me informed if you know or hear anything please and thank you so again so much. I never did see her yesterday but thanks so much for getting ahold of me! It means the world to me.”

I said, “I would absolutely keep you posted and will do my best to find her for you.

So the search was on. I hit the streets and started asking everyone I would run into if they had seen her. I would periodically post her information in team chat in hopes that one of our Echelon officers would run into her but no one had come across her yet.

On December 22nd, 2022 at 0535 am I woke up to a text from the Mom, “Hi, this is Amber, we talked about a month ago about my daughter. I was just hoping that maybe you’ve seen her? My heart’s just breaking over this cold weather and thinking she’s out there. I’ll send you a picture again in a minute and thank you and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas”

I message back immediately, “Good morning, Amber! I haven’t seen her but I will put another post about her in our team chat today. I will also forward you the cold weather shelters that are available right now, In case you come down you will know where to find her.

Amber texted back at 0550am, “Thank you so much, I just am not going to be able to get out there and I’m dying over here not knowing so I appreciate it. Merry Christmas and thank you.”

I said, “Ok, Just know she might be at one of the emergency cold shelters.

They opened four up yesterday and they have another place where they can be inside from 07:00-10:00pm getting warm, charging stations for phones and serving hot beverages while they have the option to shower and do laundry there. So hopefully she is there!  Praying for you and her.”

Amber then messaged, “So then they get kicked out after 1000 pm at night?

I answered, “That one is the day shelter so they would have to leave there and head to the other 4 that are open all night.

Amber messaged back, “Ok that’s better than nothing for sure!

I, then, forwarded all the shelter information I could think of and sent it off to her, then I headed out the door for work. I was at a morning briefing and I was updating our team on the situation at hand.

I sent a message back to Amber asking what her daughter’s age was and what name she goes by on the streets,

Her name is Alexis Mickes but she goes by Lexie. Thank you again so much you don’t even know how much this means to me, I can’t I’m at work and I can’t quit crying she is 23 years old and her birthday is Feb 26th, 1999.

“OK, hang in there Mama! My team and I will do our best to look for her. I know you are worried and I feel for you!” Amber was grateful.

Ok, I just advised everyone on zoom and will be sending her picture out in a second.

Amber again said, “Thank you again so so so much like so much!”

I hope we can bring you some good news today or for Christmas! Where was she staying before? Was it in the Old Town or Chinatown area? Just so I can give some reference. I know a month ago when you were here one of our guys had seen her near 230 Ash.

Amber responded back, “I think she was closer to, Oh man I don’t really remember I think it was like right in the middle between downtown and Chinatown.

“OK, all I can say is last week they were working hard on cleaning tents out of that area and people are moving towards Goose Hollow and Slabtown area. I am in Goose today so maybe I will come across her.”

Amber said, “Thank you again so much. I hope you know how much this means to me and I’m sorry you’re out there in the cold too, try to stay warm. 

“You are most welcome and I will do my best to locate your kiddo.”

Yes, it is cold out here today. My heart just breaks for all the houseless folks. This weather is painfully cold. I wish we could just house everyone. No one should be out here. You stay warm too.”

Amber said, “Yeah, I’m right there with you, I feel the same way super sad but thanks for doing what you do again hopefully we’ll talk again here soon but if not Merry Christmas. Here is another picture of her.”

I said, “Thank you for the picture. Feel free to reach out any time, Amber.”

Amber again said, “Thank you. Merry Christmas to you too!”

I went back out on the streets and continued on with the search. I was determined that I was going to find her and so badly wanted to be able to call on Christmas and say we found your kiddo. Unfortunately, Christmas came and we were not able to give Amber her Christmas wish.

January 11th 2023, Amber left a message, ‘Hi, this is Amber I was just checking in to see if you’ve heard anything about Lexi yet? Anyways I hope you are having a great day, Thank you.”

I immediately responded back, aloha Amber, unfortunately I haven’t seen her. I am back to work tomorrow and will put out another announcement in the morning briefing to the team. I have been home since Friday with Bronchitis and Pneumonia. I will get back out there tomorrow and keep my eyes and ears open.I thought I had found her last week but I am pretty sure this isn’t her?

I, then, forwarded the pictures to her and I told her I had to pull this young lady out of a tent and narcan her. Her face was purple-blue-gray and she wasn’t breathing and it took two rounds of narcan. At first glance I thought she looked like your daughter but then I checked the pictures out and it’s not her. Lexi is on my radar and hopefully one of these days I can text you a picture with her and a location of where she is staying.

January 12th, 2023 at 1035am Amber responds, “Yeah that’s not her but again I really appreciate your time and for always getting back to me.  Well I hope one of these times that yes I’ll be getting a text or something saying that you found her and hopefully not dead but I hope your day is wonderful and thank you again for everything!”

January 12th, 2023, 1:46pm I sent Amber a text, “Aloha, One of my colleagues has seen your daughter around many times, He said she goes by a different street name though. I sent him 3 pictures of her and he is going to go out and ask his contacts. I should have something for you soon.”

Amber texted back, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”

I said, “Spencer is his name and he runs our non-profit called Loving One Another.”

Amber said, “Well thank you again it’s comforting just to hear that somebody has seen her, it makes my heart feel a little better.”

I will keep you posted. But he has seen your kiddo many times over the last several months and he recognized YOU too.”

Amber said, “Okay thank you so much and yes please keep me updated.”

On Friday January 20th at 5:31pm I was working at the Blanchet house for dinner service for the houseless. As folks were coming in for dinner I started showing Lexi’s picture and asking if anyone has seen her?  I had several houseless folks and staff from the Blanchet house confirm that they had seen her and that she had been staying at the Portland Rescue Mission.

I finally had some news for Amber.

I sent her a text and told her that many folks had seen her and recognized her too. 

Amber responded, “Oh yeah probably for me asking them if they know Lexie, that’s kind of funny. Good though I’m so happy someone saw her. Thank you for not forgetting about me! It means alot! Thank you again.

January 25th, 2023 at 4:25pm I finally ran into Lexie. I sent pictures and text Amber with the news.  I let her know that she was going to call her this evening after she got a new sim card for her cellphone. I also offered Lexi resources and she said she could really use some clothes, new shoes and food.  I hooked her up with a bag full of clothes, hand sanitizer, snacks, wipes, shoes, even a pair of sunglasses and a safety whistle with a compass.

Amber texted this, “Thank you so much! I feel so much better now. I love you for that so much, never going to be any words to describe how much I thank you and if she is still with you just please tell her I love her, thank you so so much. Thank you.”

I told her when I was with her. I let her know you miss and love her very much and that you’ve been searching for her. She promised me she would call you. Tomorrow she said she is going to the hospital for surgery. Something about her gallbladder removal is causing her issues. I love you too and glad I finally found her! 

Amber said,”I hope she does but thank you so so much!

I texted, “You are most welcome. The next day I texted Amber and asked ‘did your kiddo call you? She promised me she would!


“That makes me sad. If I run into her again we will call you with my cellphone.”

“Thank you. I just don’t even know how to tell you how better I feel just to know that she’s still alive and especially after it was so cold and stuff, Thank you again, I love your face.”

“Awe… She is alive! She loves you. I asked her about going home to you and she said there is nothing to do there and it’s boring.”

So unfortunately, she loves living outside, and this lifestyle.  I will keep an eye out for her and I told her if she ever sees me she can ask for help. I told her I carry resources in my vehicle. Yesterday she loaded up on warm clothes, hygiene stuff and food. So she was super excited about the clothes she picked out and shoes.

Amber texted back with, “Well that makes my heart so incredibly happy, Thank you for looking out for my baby it means the world to me but please do just keep in touch and I really thank you and appreciate you, Hope your day is wonderful.

I will definitely keep in touch and I will keep you posted on her. She is staying in the Pearl district.  She had a tent but said someone stole it because she didn’t have anything in it. I feel like she said she had a friend’s house or apartment she sometimes stays at. 

Amber’s final text was ‘Thank you’. 

“You’re welcome.” 

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.

Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change. 

Community through security and security through community is about taking care of our TRIBE together. 

Go be the Aloha you wish to see in the world and keep spreading kindness to all. 

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