How does Shelter Work? ((tips for coordinators and volunteers too!))
Our families stay the night in one of our partner churches from Sunday evening to Saturday evening.
They get up to leave at 7 am every day (so our volunteers can get to work or school on time.)
They can take their own cars or the Family Promise van back to the day center, or go directly to school or work.
At the Day Center they receive case management, look for jobs, do laundry, and many other things depending on their personal goals. Families can get clothes from our store, or they may go to appointments for healthcare. The ultimate goal is to get to permanent housing so sometimes this means filling out many applications, sometimes this means working on a budget to save money for deposits, and sometimes this means learning about other resources and partner agencies. We have two families working on getting a home through Habitat for Humanity https://blounthabitat.org/!
The families at our Day Center then load up at 5 pm to go back to the church for dinner, where our volunteers sit down with them for a family meal and fellowship.
Our guests will tell you it isn’t always easy living in community, following rules, and following a schedule. But they will tell you about the love and support they receive at Family Promise because of our Family Promise Family of staff, volunteers, and partner congregations!
Learning about all the different ways our Coordinators help run Shelter has been really exciting! There are 2 volunteer overnight hosts each night, and more volunteers who cook or host a meal. There are volunteers who help take down beds on Sundays and load them up to go to the next church. There are volunteers who wash sheets, and then store them for the next time the church has shelter. And more volunteers who set up beds at the next location. We have volunteers and staff who drive the van. The Coordinators make sure all these jobs are filled, and then reports back with successes and struggles. They do this about four weeks every year.
I thought it would be helpful to share because there are so many ways to sign up your volunteers or organize your meals! I have seen whiteboards at some of the churches, some coordinators run the volunteer shifts from their notebooks, and some are using Sign Up Genius. (if you have other ideas please leave in the comments!)
I like Sign Up Genius https://www.signupgenius.com/ – it’s free, its simple to follow the template, (or they have videos to help https://www.signupgenius.com/videos ), and it automatically reminds your volunteers. You can add as many slots as you need for volunteers on each day. ((And if you invite me to your Sign Up Genius and you have open slots I can try to help you fill them.))
We have an Open Week in December, this means we don’t have a partner church for host or support but we will be asking our community volunteers for help! It only took a few minutes to add slots for Overnight hosts and meals. I added slots for volunteers who are willing to bring breakfast foods, or lunch items. (We need simple items like cereal, bread, milk, fruit.) Then I added a Dinner Coordinator Slot – that person can make the whole meal – OR organize their Sunday School class, office, or friends to make just one part of the meal! So everyone gets to help but they get to help the way they choose!
For Meal Planning I also like Perfect Potluck and Take Them a Meal.
Take Them a Meal is good for seeing the week’s meals planned out (so the families don’t eat spaghetti every night) and is great for organizing meals for someone who is ill or just had a baby! https://takethemameal.com/
Perfect Potluck is good when you want to delegate the main dish, sides, dessert to a group. It helps you figure out how many sides you need for the size of your group too. https://www.perfectpotluck.com/