Each year when Interfaith Shelter comes to our Church I sign my Book club and Bibble Study groups up to provide dinners. There are usually 12+ residents of the program and 10+ volunteers. We gather together in a large room with 4 tables set in a large square. The food is always great but really secondary to what unfolds. We hold hands and pray then get our meals. When we all are settled in I ask an ice breaker question (favorite food,best pet etc. )that everyone anwsers along with their name. Within minutes we are one "family" chatting and sharring , groups of like minded folks end up switching places and the conversation grows. People linger and the evening is filled with heartfelt talk.I like to think from those hours of "table talk" come the process of healing. Even though the residents are homeless they are still part of our community. The normal interaction goes a long way to making the process tangible. Through prayer, talk, food, we give encouragement. We always get more than we give.
Ive been involved with the InterFaith Shelter network for 20 yearsas a volunteer setting up the shelters at my Church and as a overnight host. My wife coordinated the hosting at our church for a few years as well.We were drawn to this ministry for a number of reasons. It helped individuals get back up on their feet in so many ways. From getting housing, to keeping a job by learning some Job skill or interview skill. It provided a safe place for the families and It provided a much needed structure for these individuals . Simple rules that would allow them to get along with others and yet have some modicum of privacy and safety. It personally provided me and my family an avenue to serve others that needed our help. An effective way to present caring for others in a tangible way to my young Sons who would help me in small ways every year including eating with the guests and hearing their stories. This is a ministry where many people in the church can help out ans serve the community . Phil
I have volunteered twice to spend the night with the people we serve via the Interfaith Shelter Network. The people are so happy to have a place to come to at night where they are welcomed with open arms and given a good meal as well. These people are trying to get back on their feet, and Interfaith Shelter provides them a safe harbor to come to in the evening after exploring job opportunities during the day.
Chalice UU Congregation has been hosting a two-week rotation of the winter shelter for the past four years. I started out as a transportation volunteer and have been Lead Coordinator for our shelter for the past two years and will do so again this year. I have found Interfaith Community Services and the Shelter Network to be made up of dedicated, hardworking people that have the very best interests of their guests, and the volunteers who serve them, at heart. They are unfailingly helpful and there for us when needed. They are always working to provide the best, most positive program for the guests so that they might move up from their current situation. It is an honor to be a part of this program.
During the 10 years I have been involved with the San Diego Interfaith Shelter Network I have visited with many individuals in transition. The most poignant are families, sometimes where the adolesant children are in reality the caretakers for the parent(s). Through the efforts of the various case management agencies these families and individuals are given the opportunity to make a better life and many do, transitioning into more stable housing, pursing education and finding employment. In addition, the children continue their education, sometimes at a great effort.
The volunteers, who serve as overnight hosts and/or provide meals, gain at least as much as they give. Many return year after year. Truly this program has changed lives for the better.
For 25 years The Interfaith Shelter Network has coordinated shelter for single adults and families in San Diego County. I have coordinated the effort at my church for 24 of those years. We typically house 12 guests for 14 nights at each church in the rotation. Last year, through the cooperative efforts of 100 congregations, 245 guests were sheltered for more than 8,900 nights. This required the participation of 3,500 volunteers. The guests receive guidance from case management agencies and attend budget and career planning workshops offered at the shelters. Fifty-seven percent of the guests found more permanent housing after being in the network. Twenty-eight percent of the adults were employed when they left and fifty-eight percent exited with either a job or income to which they were entitled.
The Interfaith Shelter Network has been in existence for 24 years, providing shelter and food to hundreds of homeless families and single adults. The network involves churches all over San Diego County that take in a dozen people for two weeks, housing them in the church and providing three meals a day. I have been coordinating this effort at my church for 23 years and our whole church reaps the blessing from helping the homeless.
The Interfaith Shelter Network is well organized, professional, and ensures that both volunteers and guests are well prepared. It is awesome to participate with so many wonderful people.
I have been the Shelter Coordinator at my church for the last 6 or 7 years. Each year we have wonderful and rewarding experiences with the guests who stay with us for two weeks. It is especially heartwarming to hear about the successes of our guests as they get their lives put back together. Each evening at the Shelter guests and hosts sit down together for a meal and fellowship. We all learn as much from our guests as I hope we give them.
I have been a volunteer of the Interfaith Shelter Network for close to 10 years. While many organizations lobby, march, walk/run and demonstrate to help the homeless, the Interfaith Shelter feeds and houses them one person at a time. From the caseworkers to the coordinators and donators, the cooks and overnight help, and the guests themselves, this organization has helped get many people on their feet every year.
The interfaith Rotational shelter provides food and shelter to the homeless in San Diego county from November thru March. The shelter rotates from church to church every two weeks and provides shelter to up to 15 people at each church. The guests are screened and are provided case management and all have a plan for self sufficiency. Our church, The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Deguito, has partnered with St. James Catholic church for over 25 years in providing 2 weeks of shelter. It is very rewarding for our volunteers in seeing the guests making progress on their path of self sufficiency.
My wife and I have volunteered for 25 years with the North Coastal San Diego County Interfaith Shelter Network of the Ecumenical Council of San Diego. At first we were support for another congregation that hosted the network. For the past 10 years our congregation has been a host congregation. There are seven networks. The ISN staff provides coordination, training, and follow up with 7 social service agencies and over 75 congregations of various faiths and denominations. At this moment, my wife is chairing our congregation in hosting 12 persons (3 single women with 8 children and one single man). She has over 80 members of our congregation involved as overnight hosts, in preparing meals, doing laundry, driving our guests to medical/dental appointments, or just being available to assist as needed. Over 10,000 persons have been helped over the history of IFN with approximately 60% finding jobs and/or housing.
I have been a volunteer with the Rotational Shelter Network program of the Ecumenical Council of San Diego County for several years now, through my church. It has always been a rewarding experience, even with the trials that come with these same experiences. I would highly recommend anyone who wants a rewarding volunteer experience to contact the Rotational Shelter Network program of the Ecumenical Council of San Diego County and help in anyway that they can. The joy that comes from helping those in need is more than and $$ amount anyone can give...your heart and those you help hearts are filled with love and grace.