OSH Volunteer Opportunities

You Make a Difference

Volunteers are vital to the work of OSH.

Every day of the year, dedicated groups and individuals serve meals, plan recreational activities, help with the maintenance of our properties, and so much more! In one year, over 2700 volunteers contribute more than 13,000 hours of their time, energy, and talent. Join us, and you will provide our residents with support, the chance to start over, and a pathway home.

“Volunteering here has shown me another side to shelters. There are so many misconceptions about people who are experiencing homelessness. The people here are just like anyone else. They just ended up in a bad situation.”

– Allie, Shelter Volunteer

“Volunteering here has shown me another side to shelters. There are so many misconceptions about people who are experiencing homelessness. The people here are just like anyone else. They just ended up in a bad situation.”

– Allie, Shelter Volunteer

Basic Info

Why become an OSH volunteer?

People just like you volunteer at OSH for many different reasons:

  • Desire to make a tangible impact in the lives of those experiencing homelessness
  • Passion for housing and urban issues
  • Opportunity to gain experience in a future career or to just try something new
  • New friends and a fun, vibrant community

The list could go on and on, but don’t take our word for it. We’re happy to put you in contact with one of our current volunteers to give you the inside scoop on volunteering at OSH.

What do you look for in an OSH volunteer?
OSH volunteers come with diverse gifts, backgrounds, and experiences. However, we have found that certain qualities help to ensure a good fit and positive experience for everyone:

  • Friendly, respectful, and compassionate towards all people
  • Reliable and timely
  • Self-directed with a high degree of initiative and flexibility
  • Comfortable working with a wide diversity of residents, staff, and volunteers
Is your shelter safe and family friendly?
Staff, residents, and volunteers strive to maintain a sense of community and respect, and children are welcome at our shelter. Please note, however, that in recent years we have been serving an increasingly vulnerable population, resulting in more residents displaying acute symptoms of physical, mental, or chemical health challenges. We recommend keeping children age 10 and younger within eyesight and age 5 and younger within arm’s reach. In general, you should take the same safety precautions you normally would in any public setting.

Additionally, we use a “harm reduction” model. This means our priority is keeping people indoors and safe. If individuals are under the influence, they are welcome to stay as long as their behavior remains safe and non-disruptive. At the same time, we have high expectations for behavior. If you become concerned about someone’s behavior, please inform staff right away.

Our building has controlled entry, as well as indoor and outdoor security cameras. We have a parking lot right next to the building for volunteers’ use. Staff are always present any time volunteers and/or residents are onsite.

How do I become a volunteer?

3 easy steps to begin volunteering:

  1. Review volunteer opportunities—find the right fit for you.
  2. Complete our online application (for individuals or for groups) to begin the process, or contact our Volunteer Coordinator with questions.
  3. Our volunteer coordinator will contact you to set up an in person tour and meeting.

Volunteer Opportunities

For Individuals

Evening Shelter Aide

Help provide hospitality and hope to 40 homeless adults by volunteering at our emergency shelter. You will assist in keeping the shelter running smoothly during its busiest hours. Tasks may include the following:

  • Visiting with residents
  • Assisting volunteer groups serving dinner
  • Answering the door and phone
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning
  • Working on clerical tasks
  • Performing other assorted activities

We are seeking individuals who are reliable, compassionate, friendly, self-directed, and flexible. By working closely with shelter staff and residents, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of homelessness and the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something meaningful to help. Dinner is provided!

Qualifications:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must pass a criminal background check. (Prior criminal offenses will not automatically disqualify you from volunteering.)
  • No experience or background in social services required. Staff provides the orientation, training, and support you need to be successful in your volunteer role.

Time Commitment:

  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays from 5:30-8:30pm or 6:00-9:00pm
  • Every week or every other week for at least six months
Daytime Shelter Receptionist

Although the shelter is closed from 8:30am-5:30pm, a number of people drop by throughout the day for a variety of reasons. You will provide a welcoming and helpful atmosphere to those visiting the shelter. Tasks may include the following:

  • Greeting and assisting residents and other visitors with their needs and answering questions
  • Completing various administrative tasks
  • Keeping our lobby and front desk organized and clean
  • Performing other office duties, as assigned

Qualifications:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Reliable and flexible
  • Comfortable and compassionate when working with staff, residents, and volunteers who come from culturally diverse backgrounds
  • Experience in customer service a plus
  • Basic computer skills a plus
  • Must pass a criminal background check. (Prior criminal offenses will not automatically disqualify you from volunteering.)

Time Commitment:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 1:30-4:30pm
  • Every week preferably, or every other week, for at least four months
Daytime Projects Volunteer

We are seeking volunteers who are reliable, compassionate, friendly, self-directed, and flexible to assist staff with a variety of tasks to help keep the shelter comfortable and running smoothly. Tasks may include the following:

  • Sorting and organizing donations
  • Maintaining organization and cleanliness of shelter kitchen and pantry
  • Performing other tasks, as assigned

Qualifications:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must pass a criminal background check. (Prior criminal offenses will not automatically disqualify you from volunteering.)
  • Must be able to use stairs frequently and lift/carry up to 35 pounds

Time Commitment:

  • Monday-Friday between 9:30am-4:30pm (minimum 2 hour shift)
  • Every week, every other week, or monthly
Shelter Bingo or Game Night Host

Try hosting Bingo or a Game Night in our shelter (best for 1-3 people). Bingo and other games are a fun way for our residents to relax and socialize in the evening.

For Bingo, we provide the Bingo set; you provide 5-10 small prizes, such as treats, gift cards, socks, or hygiene items. For Game Night, feel free to bring card or board games to share with residents, as well as a few small prizes.

Requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age (or accompanied by an adult if under 18)
  • Adults must pass a criminal background check. (Prior criminal offenses will not automatically disqualify you from volunteering.)

Time Commitment:

  • Monday-Sunday from 8:00-9:00pm

Contact our Volunteer Coordinator to check availability.

Internships
We regularly work with students through social work and non-social work internships.

All direct-service internships for social work majors are arranged directly through select schools. We have worked with Augsburg College, Bethel University, St. Catherine University, St. Thomas University, and the University of Minnesota in the past and are open to additional partnerships. Please contact our Program Director for more information.

We occasionally offer internships in public health, fund development, communications, volunteer management, and other fields. If you have an idea for a non-social work internship, contact our Volunteer Coordinator.

For Families or Groups

Shelter Meal Service

Dinner

Volunteer dinner groups purchase, prepare, and serve a nutritious meal to 40 residents at our emergency shelter every night of the year. It’s a perfect opportunity for families, congregations, co-workers, or friends to join together for a fun and fulfilling evening!

We have a full kitchen that your group can use, or you can prepare your meal ahead of time. Both homemade and store/restaurant-bought food are welcome. After serving, your group is encouraged to enjoy dinner and conversation with our residents.

Details:

  • Best suited for groups of 3-6
  • Total on-site time is 2-3 hours with dinner served at 7pm

We still have many openings in our calendar throughout 2019. Click here to sign up for available dates. Then complete our group volunteer application.

Individuals or groups are also more than welcome to monetarily sponsor a dinner for shelter residents, up to $200. We will use that sponsorship to cater a meal or sponsor a group who would like to cook but does not have the funds to do so.

Breakfast

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we love to be able to send our residents off with a good one! Volunteer breakfast groups purchase, prepare, and serve delicious breakfasts to 40 residents at our emergency shelter.

We have a full kitchen that your group can use, or you can prepare your meal ahead of time. Both homemade and store/restaurant-bought food are welcome. We only ask that it be nutritious and filling to help sustain residents throughout their day.

Details:

  • Best suited for groups of 3-6
  • Total on-site time is about 2 hours with breakfast served at 7am, followed by clean-up, and finished by 8:15am at the latest

Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator for open dates.

Sandwiches

Help residents stay fed and healthy even while they’re away from the shelter during the day by providing hearty and nutritious sandwiches.

This is a great opportunity for all ages and can include church groups, co-workers, school and civic clubs, youth groups, families, or friends who want to share in helping others.

You can make the sandwiches at the location and time of your choice, or you can make them on-site at our shelter between 10am-4pm, Monday through Friday. We accept donations of all sizes, but for your planning purposes, a group of 10 volunteers will usually make 150-200 sandwiches in one hour.

Details:

  • Sandwiches can contain multiple slices of meat and cheese (except bologna) and whole wheat bread, if possible
  • Please don’t put condiments or vegetables on the sandwiches, as these don’t keep
  • Place each sandwich in a Ziploc style bag
  • Pack the wrapped sandwiches back into the original bread bag
  • Label the bread bag with the date and meat used

Please check with our Volunteer Coordinator before making and/or delivering sandwiches, as our refrigerator and freezer space are limited.

Snack bags

Help us send residents off with a complete lunch to take with them for their day! Assemble homemade or store-bought snacks in brown paper lunch bags.

This is a great opportunity for all ages and can include church groups, co-workers, school and civic clubs, youth groups, families, or friends who want to share in helping others.

Snacks might include dried fruit, pre-packaged fruit cups, veggies, chips, crackers, trail mix, granola bars, cookies, beef jerky, etc. Each bag should include 2-4 snack items and a beverage, if possible.

You can make the snack packs at a location and time of your choice, or you can make them on-site at our shelter between 10:00am-4:00pm, Monday through Friday. We accept donations of all sizes.

Please check with our Volunteer Coordinator before making and/or delivering snack packs so we know when donations will be arriving.

Kit Assembly

Shelter Welcome

When residents enter our emergency shelter, they often lack things they need, such as personal care items. Your welcome kits will help us supply our residents’ with basic essentials. It’s the little things that make a place feel more like home!

Welcome kits contain the following:

  • One new pillow
  • One twin size sheet set
  • One bath towel
  • One washcloth
  • One pair of shower shoes (inexpensive flip flops for men and women)

We accept gently used items, pre-washed and free of stains or rips.

Shower

When residents enter our emergency shelter, they often lack things they need, such as personal care items. Shower kits are a smaller but useful alternative to a full “Shelter Welcome” kit and will still help us supply our residents’ with basic essentials.

Shower kits contain the following:

  • One bath towel
  • One washcloth
  • One travel-size soap container
  • One pair of shower shoes (inexpensive flip flops for men and women) 

We accept gently used items, pre-washed and free of stains or rips.

Just pack the items into individual bags, and deliver them to our shelter!

Laundry (fully stocked for now)

Clean clothes are among our residents’ most essential needs. We are able to provide a washer and dryer at our shelter, but residents must provide their own supplies. With each laundry kit, residents will be able to do several loads of laundry!

Laundry kits contain the following:

  • Enough powdered laundry detergent for 2-3 washes or 2-3 detergent pods
  • 2-3 dryer sheets
  • 1 travel-size bottle or packet of stain remover. 

Packing items into individual plastic snack or sandwich size baggies works best.

Undergarment essentials

Throughout the year, new undergarments are among our residents’ most urgent needs. You can help each resident in our shelter and housing programs feel comfortable and clean by coordinating your own drive or donating to ours. Please note all items should be new.

For Men:

  • Boxers or briefs – sizes S-XXXL
  • Socks – both winter and regular
  • Undershirts (such as Hanes) – sizes S-XXXL

For Women:

  • Underwear – sizes S-XL
  • Socks – both winter and regular
  • Feminine hygiene products
Flu Free

Homelessness puts significant stress on the body, which makes residents in our shelter more vulnerable to illness. Your flu free kits will help them maintain health all year round!

Flu Free kits contain the following:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissue packs
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Vitamin-C packs
  • Travel size ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Beat the heat

These items are a great way to keep our shelter residents safe from the summer heat:

  • Sunscreen (SPF 30-50)
  • Lip balm containing SPF
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball type cap or an umbrella
Move in basket

Move in baskets are needed each time a resident joins our Permanent Supportive Housing Program. After years of homelessness, these individuals finally have a place to call their own, but limited budgets make it tough for them to make their apartment a home. Your Move In Basket will help get our residents settled in this new phase of life.

Move in baskets contain the following:

  • Durable mop (preferably not from a dollar store)
  • Durable broom and dust pan (preferably not from a dollar store)
  • Shower curtain and rings
  • Toilet brush, plunger, and cleaner
  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Trash can
  • Microwave or full size or larger air mattress (for an extra special kit!)
Home Care

Home Care Kits are needed every month to sustain over 100 residents in our Permanent Supportive Housing Program. After years of homelessness, these individuals have finally found home in their own apartments, but limited budgets make it tough for them to purchase even simple home care items. Your Home Care Kits will help supply our residents with basic essentials.

Home Care Kits contain the following:

  • 5-6 trash bags (13 gallon)
  • 8 rolls of toilet paper
  • 1-2 rolls of paper towel
  • 1 bottle of dish soap (8 oz. or larger)
  • 1 sponge

Packing all of the items into one of the garbage bags works best.

Kits are great projects for both youth and adults. You can assemble kits into individual bags at your home, office, school, or place of worship. when you are finished, please contact the volunteer coordinator to arrange a delivery date and time between 9:30am-4:00pm, Monday-Friday. For a list of additional needed items, please see our Wish List. We welcome donations of any quantity.

For Individuals or Groups

Property Maintenance

Maintaining a clean and welcoming space for residents takes many hands! Help with painting, cleaning, yard work, or other tasks around our properties. Throughout the year, we need groups of many different sizes and ages. We also welcome skilled trades professionals to help with special projects.

Donation Drive

A donation drive is an excellent way to provide needed supplies and spread the word about OSH! Gather items on your own, or organize efforts with your school, workplace, faith community, friends, etc.

View our full Wish List here!

Breakfast items for the days without hot breakfast at the shelter are especially needed right now:

  • Cereal (biggest need)
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Jelly or jam
  • English muffins or bagels
  • Cream cheese
  • Nutritious breakfast bars
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Disposable plates, bowls, utensils, and napkins

If you would like to make a material donation of any kind, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator in advance, as space is limited. OSH does not accept clothing, food, or children’s donations except those items listed on our Wish List.

Financial donations are also greatly appreciated!

Shelter Tour

Shelter tours can be a great way to deepen and add an educational component to your volunteer engagement. We are happy to provide tours by appointment Monday-Friday between 9:30am – 4:30pm. For more information, contact our Volunteer Coordinator.

Ready to Volunteer?

Individuals
Groups
Individuals
Groups
Thank you for choosing to make a difference in our residents’ lives! We can’t wait to meet you and get started!
For questions or further information:

Tamara Patton
Volunteer Coordinator
volunteer@oshousing.org
612.872.4193×2

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2315 Chicago Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Phone | 612.871.5900
Fax | 612.871.0017

communications@oscs-mn.org

Our Saviour's Housing

2219 Chicago Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Phone | 612.872.4193
Fax | 612.872.4442

English Learning Center

2315 Chicago Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Phone | 612.874.9963
Fax | 612.871.0017