What can volunteers do?
We welcome volunteers each evening at the shelter from about 6:30-8:30 to prepare a light snack and serve it to our guests. Help us set up, welcome guests, and then share some social time. If you or a group would like to prepare a light snack, that is always welcome. Feel free to contact the volunteer coordinator if you would like to fill an open date!
Front Desk Volunteers
Keeping our Front Desk staffed during the day is extremely important. Front Desk Volunteers answer phones and take messages for guests and staff, monitor guest check in, check guest mail, and help guests when supplies run out such as coffee, toilet paper, or hand sanitizer. The shifts for the Front Desk are 8:30 am-12:30 pm and 12:30 pm-4:30 pm Monday through Friday. The Front Desk is important because it allows our guests to receive messages from and talk with doctors, family, friends, care providers, and employers as well as helping staff fully utilize their skills to help our guests take their next steps out of homelessness.
All positions are currently filled
Daytime Support Volunteer
While our Front Desk volunteer is busy with the phones and taking messages for our staff and guests, we are in need of volunteers to be an extra set of hands during the day. This position would entail helping to keep our supplies readily stocked (coffee cups, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.) The Daytime Support volunteer would also be helping to check guest mail as they come in. The hours are the same as the Front Desk, 8:30 am-12:30 pm and 12:30 pm-4:30 pm. We would like this volunteer to make a regular commitment.
Evening Support Volunteers
At the overnight shelter, we also have opportunities to act as Evening Support. Evening Support volunteers assist staff at our front desk with checking in guests, assigning beds, answering guest questions, and handing guests toiletries and other supplies they may need. This is an opportunity to build friendships and become more involved in our efforts to end homelessness. This is a regular commitment opportunity, as an evening support volunteer you will work from 6pm-9pm at our overnight shelter the same night each week.
All positions are currently filled
Help Desk Volunteers
The Help Desk is a service offered to our guests to help them with resumes, job applications, financial aid for school, obtaining birth certificates, a drivers license and IDs, and many other steps that will give them a hand up. Help Desk Volunteers work one-on-one with guests by appointment to help them take these steps. We appreciate regular commitments from Help Desk Volunteers, for example coming at the same time every week for a couple of hours. You can choose to work the Help Desk during the day at the Drop In Center from 8:30am-4:30pm, or at the overnight shelter from 7:00 pm- 9:00 pm.
Veteran Help Desk
The Vet Help Desk is a volunteer position that requires the same commitment and service as our regular Help Desk, however you will work one-on-one with homeless veterans to help them find their way out of homelessness.
We rely on groups of volunteers to participate in Bi Weekly Maintenance Days. We welcome groups of students, church groups, families, military groups, and any others who can come together to help with the upkeep of our shelter. The maintenance days can consist of mopping and washing windows, sanitizing beds and tables, organizing closets and cabinets, washing loads of blankets and sheets, and any other general maintenance of items and facilities that help us to best serve our guests.
If you have a special skill or talent that you would like to share with our guests, we encourage you to set up a date with us to offer a workshop. Our workshops have included drawing, poetry, and writing, but we welcome any kind of talent you enjoy. Workshops are held at our overnight shelter from 7:30 pm-9:30 pm. Workshops are a great way to share what you love while giving guests a space to relax and clear their minds at the end of the day.
We would welcome your help at the Hospitality Center any time we are open. Volunteers can also help with administrative projects. We provide all the training you need. Let us know when you want to come in, so we can have projects ready for you. Examples of on-going volunteer opportunities.
We rely on the help of volunteers to operate Homeward Bound Treasures Thrift Store. You could assist customers, help prepare donations for sale, or improve the way we display our diverse inventory. The store is open five days a week, and help for even a few hours each week would be greatly appreciated.
If volunteering on a regular schedule does not suit your needs, call us when you can provide short-term help. We have projects that can be done at the Hospitality Center or at home. We have practical needs, like shopping for supplies, and also, the need for help with grants and research on model programs.
Q&A Related to Volunteering at the Overnight Shelter
Where is the shelter located?
The shelter is on the first floor of the Seabury Center of St. James Episcopal Church at 76 Federal Street in New London (cross street = Huntington Street.) Our entrance is around the back, off Meridian Street. You should park in the St. James parking lot, and walk around to the back. If you’re reading this on-line, follow the link below for a Google map of the area: Map link
What does the shelter look like?
The shelter takes up the first floor of the Seabury Center. A community room serves as an entry point, and a place for people to sit and talk, read, or play games. One room provides fourteen beds for women. Three other larger rooms provide beds for about 40 men.
Who’s in charge at the shelter?
The Shelter Supervisor is Celida Baez. Each evening, we have two HHC staff people working at the shelter until 10:00 at night. Feel free to ask staff, if you have any questions or need any help.
What do I do when I first arrive at the shelter?
Check in with staff and let them know what service you are providing that night. Set up food on the table next to the Front Desk and begin serving when you feel ready. If you are working as Evening Support, take a seat at the front desk and look over the bed list so you're prepared when people start checking in. If you are unclear about anything you should be doing, do not hesitate to ask staff for help.
Where do I get supplies like paper plates, napkins, plastic forks, etc.?
The shelter staff can show you where supplies are kept. Shelter supplies are variable, however, so if possible, please bring appropriate paper plates & plastic utensils with you if you’re bringing a snack. Thank you!
Can I use whatever is in the kitchen?
Though our kitchen is very small, you are welcome to use anything you can find that you need! Feel free to use the stove or microwave. You can also use any food you find in the kitchen.
What if I’m signed up but cannot come in?
Please call or e-mail the volunteer coordinators.