The last night of the regular shelter season was Monday, May 13th at First United Church of Oak Park. Site Captain Steve Meier and his team, most of whom are affiliated with the St. Giles Family Mass community, arrived first to set up the space. Someone got the decaf coffee percolating in the giant urn and put out the sugar and creamer. Close to 60 pads and bed rolls were laid out in the separated family and women’s areas, and on one side of the partition in Centennial Hall. Tables and chairs were arranged on the other. Meanwhile, Housing Forward staff organized the registration table. AmeriCorps members talked about what they would be doing as their year of service was ending. They continuously ran to the door to let in breakfast and lunch providers arriving to deliver groceries and pre-packed sack lunches for the morning shift to distribute.
The smell of meatloaf and mashed potatoes started to waft through the place as people of all ages carried in steaming food. Once Housing Forward ID cards were collected from clients waiting outside, the doors were opened and the shelter started filling up. After claiming a spot, depositing their belongings and making up their beds, shelter clients sat down in the dining area and were served by a group of teens delivering plates from the hot kitchen. People experiencing homelessness and volunteers know the routine of a regular night in shelter but once summer begins, the task of recruiting host locations and volunteers becomes more challenging.
Warmer weather brings changes and beginning May 28th Summer Transitional Shelter begins. The summer shelter program operates from mid May to late August, seven days a week, at seven sites and is designed to foster sustained stability by providing a combination of short-term shelter and supportive services for 15 participants nightly. In addition to taking on roles with food prep and cleaning, clients in the program can access case management, support group activities and life skills training. Limited spaces are made available on a lottery basis for newly homeless individuals. Volunteers are key to the success of the program as they are invited join clients for dinner and interact more than is usually possible during regular shelter season.
Volunteers can be groups of friends, individuals, families, neighbors, youth groups--anyone willing to provide a cooked dinner or groceries for breakfast or lunch. Shifts are managed through Sign-Up Genius (clickable links below) by date and location and coordinated by Enid Johnson, our Volunteer & Community Outreach Manager reachable at 708.338-1724 ext. 220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about what is asked of each shift can be found at the Sign-Up Genius sites.
For first time volunteers in Summer Shelter, you need not attend a Volunteer Training, but we ask that you complete the New Volunteer Registration Form on our website under "Get Involved" and found at the right of the page under "Getting Started" or by clicking here.
May 22 – Sept 4
Support Center Summer Lunch Program
May 28 – June 9
Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church
June 10 – June 23
St. Christopher Episcopal Church
June 24 - July 7
United Lutheran Church
July 8 – July 21
St. Giles Catholic Church
July 22 – Aug 4
Oak Park Temple
Aug 5 – Aug 11
St Paul Thai Lutheran Church
Aug. 12 - 31
First United Church of Oak Park
We deeply appreciate those who can take one or more dates over the summer.