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The Need for Emergency Shelter and Volunteers

The Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter is looking for dedicated volunteers to help run an emergency shelter this Winter.


Last year, the Out of the Cold Shelter provided a safe and welcoming environment for up to 15 people each night including both men and women, youth and transgendered persons during the coldest Winter months. It was staffed by volunteers with the support of a team of several agencies and shelters. The shelter provided accommodation and food for 226 different individuals, almost half of the people who accessed the shelter were youth.
This shelter opened this season on November 22, 2010and is a community based response to homelessness. We are seeking dedicated volunteers to help staff the shelter. All volunteer staff will receive training. We are looking for volunteers to do evening, overnight and morning shifts at the shelter beginning this month and ending on April 30.
It is inspiring to see people pulling together from so many different groups and places in order to support our friends, our neighbours, and individuals who may end up on the streets this Winter. This shelter has revived a sense of community where we take responsibility to support each other against an economic system that fails to meet people’s needs.

What To Do if You're Interested
- Complete a volunteer application. Applicationsre attached and can be e-mailed back to volunteerotcs@gmail.com Hard copies of volunteer applications can be picked up and dropped of at Dalhousie Legal Aid, 2209 Gottingen Street.
- Do an interview with members of the on-call team (to be scheduled with the volunteer coordinator after application submission).
- Complete a criminal record check. There is a letter that you can pick up at Dal Legal Aid (2209 Gottingen Street) that states you need a police check for a volunteer position. When you bring this letter to any police station you will be able to get your police check for the discounted volunteer price ($15). Iif this cost is prohibitive please let me know and the shelter can cover it. When your record is mailed to you (about 6-10 business days) you can get it to me by bringing it to a volunteer meeting, leaving it at the shelter or dropping it at Dal Legal Aid.
- Attend free trainings including:
Shelter Operations Orientation (Policies & Procedures)
Non-Violent Crisis Intervention
Conflict Management
Overdose Education
Street Health
First Aid
Anti-Oppression
Personal Boundaries
A training calendar for January will be sent out soon.

If you volunteered with the shelter in the 09-10 season you must complete and return a volunteer application and attend the Orientation (Policies & Procedures) training session. An interview and additional trainings may also be required.

Please fill out and return via e-mail to this address the attached volunteer application if you are interested in becoming volunteer staff. If you prefer to print it off and return it to me at the information session please feel free. Hard copies of the application will be available at the information sessions.

Quotes from Last Year's Volunteer Staff

“The shelter is a very supportive environment in which to volunteer, and everyone was very welcoming and open to questions. I did not feel embarrassed when I was unfamiliar with something.”

“Volunteering at the shelter was my first close exposure to people who identify as homeless, it broke down some taboos of what it means to be without a home, allowing me to be more comfortable to have empathy for individual situations without feeling pity.”

“I felt that overall, there was an atmosphere of respect for guests, and respect among volunteers. I saw potentially tense situations diffused through kindness, courtesy and a sense of humour."

“The most positive part of volunteering at the shelter was the sense of community, belonging, common purpose and sharing a laugh with the different guests.”

Volunteer Opportunities

The types of volunteer opportunities that we have available are:

Evening Shifts (4-5 hours)
This is the busiest of all of our shifts. It includes set up of the space, meeting people at the door, intake, meals, hanging out with guests, helping people find dry/warm clothes, and the mediation of any conflicts that might crop up.

Overnight Shifts (7-8 hours)
The same duties as the evening shift apply but it is usually a bit quieter. Most people will be sleeping but there are often a few people who go to bed quite late or cannot sleep. There is more one-on-one time and movie watching as well as checking up with folks during the night and doing the occasional intake.

Morning Shifts (2-3 hours)
The morning shift is busy with waking people up, preparing a light breakfast, helping people with what they need for the day, and cleaning up.

Commitment

We ask that interested volunteers commit to at least one shift (of any type) every 2 weeks. We are flexible, but this is the general commitment level we require. It ensures that we have consistent volunteers.
Requirements
We require all volunteers to complete the training sessions or have equivalent trainings or experience.
Please be advised that not all volunteers who express interest will be accepted.
This volunteer position requires:
-Ability to respond calmly and competently to conflict
-Good decision making skills and ability to think quickly
-Good communication skills
-Ability to be assertive and confident in order to uphold shelter guidelines
-Knowing your limits and when to seek support
-Ability to follow many updates, scheduling emails, and to be flexible to policy changes
-Basic knowledge about the situation of homelessness in Halifax and general causes
Volunteers may learn many of these skills through experience, but we ask that you come to the position with a certain level of confidence and ability.

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Halifax - The One in Nova Scotia

February 2011

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