Ending homelessness can start with you.
See below for more information on how you can help today!
Volunteers are vital to the work of OSH.
365 days a year, dedicated groups and individuals serve meals in our Emergency Shelter, plan recreational activities, or help with the maintenance of our properties—and so much more! Each year, over 1500 volunteers contribute nearly 13,000 hours of their time, energy, and talent. As a result, 600 people experiencing homelessness receive dignified shelter, support, and the chance to start over.
Join us and you will walk with our residents as they journey towards health, healing, and self-sufficiency. We have a wide spectrum of opportunities and will work with you to find the best fit for your skills, interests, and availability.
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 qualities make a good 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:
- Respectful and compassionate towards all people
- Reliable and timely
- Self-motivated with a high degree of initiative and flexibility
- Comfortable working with a wide diversity of residents, staff, and volunteers
The Shelter Aide Volunteer is a wonderful opportunity to gain some first-hand experience working with those who are experiencing homelessness and helping to make sure our shelter runs smoothly. Shelter Aides work closely with shelter staff to provide a welcoming, comfortable stay for our 46 adult residents. This role encompasses a wide variety of tasks and opportunities.
This volunteer position is scheduled on a once a week or once every other week basis, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
We ask the following from shelter volunteers:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Pass a criminal background check. Prior criminal offenses will not automatically disqualify you from volunteering.
- Make a regular time commitment for at least 4 months. Our shelter is open 7 days a week, so volunteers are needed weekdays and weekends.
Orientation and Training:
- No experience or background in social services required. Staff provides the orientation and on the job training and support that you need to be successful in your volunteer role.
If you are interested in any of our above shelter opportunities, please contact our volunteer coordinator for an application and to set up an in-person tour and interview.
SHELTER MEAL SERVICE
Every 4th Friday and 1st Sunday (alternating months), individuals or smaller teams of all ages can help with shelter dinners through our Supper Servers program. Perfect for those who don’t want to meal plan or coordinate a larger group (though we do ask that you bring an ingredient from a provided list to offset costs)!
Come once or come often. We are looking for servers for December 22. Just sign-up and show up during our scheduled Supper Servers nights.
INTERNSHIPS AND SERVICE-LEARNING HOURS
We regularly work with students through service-learning hours, social work internships, and non-social work internships.
- Contact our volunteer coordinator about completing service-learning hours.
- All direct-service internships for social work majors are arranged directly through select schools. We have worked with students from Augsburg College and Bethel University in the past but are open to additional partnerships. Please contact our program director for more information.
- We occasionally offer internships in fund development, communications, volunteer management, and other fields. If you have an idea for a non-social work internship, contact our volunteer coordinator.
We have many and varied opportunities for groups of all ages and most sizes.
Bring the whole family—residents especially enjoy having young people around! One-time or ongoing commitments welcome. Due to space limitations, we are unable to accommodate groups of more than 20 people.
Dinner Servers for 2018:
April 9, 18
May 9, 16, 30
June 6, 17
July 4, 11, 18, 21
August 1, 18, 29
September 5, 10, 12, 19
October 3, 17, 20, 31
November 14, 17, 21
December 10, 19, 26
SHELTER MEAL SERVICE
Groups of 3-8 people purchase, prepare, and serve breakfast for our 40 shelter residents. Served from 6-6:30 am with clean-up done by the time the shelter closes at 7 am. Prepare food onsite or at your own location – there is a kitchen on site and staff available to let you in as early as you want.
Groups of 4-10 people purchase, prepare, and serve dinner at 7:00 pm for our 46 shelter residents. Prepare food onsite or at your own location – there is a kitchen on site. The best part is sitting down to share a meal and stories with our residents.
Sandwiches or Bag Lunches:
The shelter is closed each day from 7 am – 6 pm. Groups of all sizes provide sandwiches or bag lunches for residents to take with them in the morning. You can make the sandwiches at the shelter during the day or at your own location. Please check with our volunteer coordinator in advance to ensure that we have the storage capacity on hand.
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROUPS
Try hosting Bingo in our shelter (best for 1-5 people). We provide the Bingo set; you provide 5-10 small prizes, such as treats, gift cards, socks, or hygiene items. Bingo is a fun way for our residents to relax and socialize in the evening. Or propose your own recreational activity!
Welcome new residents with hygiene kits. Collect and assemble shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and other items. It’s the little things that make a place feel more like home.
Maintain OSH Properties:
Help out with painting, cleaning, yard work, or other tasks to maintain OSH properties. Throughout the year, we have needs for groups of different sizes (usually 8-25 people) and ages.
We have a very safe and secure facility.
Staff, residents, and volunteers all strive to maintain a sense of community and respect. Visitors are always pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome and friendliness of our residents. Our shelter is a “high expectations” program where we prohibit profane or disrespectful language and other disruptive behavior.
Our building also has controlled entry and 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.
What about our Transitional Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing Programs?
The majority of our volunteer needs serve our Emergency Shelter. However, projects like painting and yard work spruce up any of our properties! Larger hygiene kits or holiday gift baskets also benefit our Transitional Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing residents.
To learn more about supporting either of these programs, please contact our volunteer coordinator.
Have another idea?
Wonderful! Contact our volunteer coordinator for additional options. Also consider supporting OSH with a financial gift or material donation. If you would like to make a material donation of any kind please contact our volunteer coordinator in advance, as we can otherwise make no guarantee of accepting, due to space and other limitations.
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: