Our volunteers help us achieve our mission to offer shelter, sanctuary, and healing to assist homeless children and their families achieve independence in so many ways. We are truly blessed to have such a large and diverse group of Calgarians who care about family homelessness and selflessly give their time and talent. Your work is impactful in so many ways! Take, for example, in our kitchen.
Volunteers come in each day in the morning to help to prepare the food that will nourish our guests and our dining room is the heart of our shelter. Thinks about how you feel when someone makes you a meal, and you sit down together to enjoy it. All of our families have that opportunity to sit down with each other and have a hot meal each evening. Although it is not one person’s home, it is a home in that moment for everyone gathered here – guests, staff and volunteers. Having a place to stay and a hot meal is one of the most basic tenets of shelter.
One of the pillars of our volunteer program, and one which we could not operate without is our amazing community of meal service volunteers. Thank you for all that you do.
Meal service volunteers are groups of 3-8 people who set up for, serve, and clean up after each hot meal. During dinner service, they also make all the lunches, which is a task in and of itself. These lunches go off with our kiddos for school as well as parents who are going to work or are going to be out for the day. Meal service volunteers contributed 9624 hours in 2015 – that is the equivalent of almost 240 full work weeks!
Volunteer groups serve hot lunch on weekdays, hot breakfast on the weekends, and hot supper each and every night of the year. This support is felt in a very tangible way – Dinner Service requires 5-8 volunteers to run smoothly, so you can imagine what would happen if we didn’t have volunteers to support this program at the Inn! The work of our kitchen volunteers and meal service volunteers help our kitchen and shelter staff accomplish the incredibly important task of providing hot, nourishing meals every single day, and the main shelter’s dining room is where, to me, seems most like a sanctuary.
The Family Facilitator program at the Inn is another important way in which volunteers contribute to the Inn; it provides a way for volunteers to engage with children and their families in a number of ways.
Some of our trained Family Facilitator volunteers act in a support role, whether it be supporting the programming of our Early Childhood Development team here at our main shelter, or supporting programming at Journey House, the Inn’s supportive housing residence. Homework Club, Mother Goose, and Preschool Playtime are all Early Childhood Development programs that our Family Facilitators support.
Another way in which Family Facilitators support the work of the Inn is by organizing and running Volunteer Led Activities here at the main shelter, as well as at Knox United Church where our satellite shelter is located. Volunteers design activities and engage our children and often their parents in everything from board games and crafts to yoga. These creative activities are integral to creating a space for play, whether it is through painting or stretching. Our yoga program, which happens on a weekly basis, is a much-loved and long term program to which many of our youngest guests look forward. One of our young guests stated that “it’s fun and hard, a little. I like it because it stretches my body. It makes me feel calm.” These kinds of programs and activities that our Family Facilitators offer provide a space to play, feel safe, and contribute to a space that can help to promote healing.
Our volunteers are an integral part of the Inn from the Cold’s programming, both through supporting it and creating their own. You contribute in tangible and intangible ways, but every way that you contribute matters. We truly couldn’t do what we do without YOU!