In 1999, the shelter program began with a core group of 12 congregations and has grown to 54 congregations with over 1,500 active volunteers per year. “I love being part of the small ‘army’ of volunteers that can mobilize 24/7 365 days a year!” says Sarah Hatchett, who along with her husband, James, is one of two volunteer coordinators at Fountain of Life Church. Fountain of Life, along with First Unitarian Society (FUS), are shelter buddies with Christ Presbyterian Church, one of 14 host sites. Together, hosts and buddies provide all meals, evening activities and overnight shelter four weeks per year to homeless families with children.
Nancy Currell, a volunteer co-coordinator with Norma Madsen at Christ Presbyterian Church, noted one of the biggest lessons learned while volunteering is understanding both the physical and emotional impacts families experience while homeless. First Unitarian Society coordinator Nancy Kosseff notes, “Giving members of our congregation the opportunity to engage in a close and personal way with families who are struggling helps us to be better informed about the complex issues surrounding homelessness, and thus more effective advocates on this issue.”
Sarah Hatchett recalls the time she and her husband were volunteering and were surprised to find they had extended family members staying in our IHN shelter. Homelessness touched them in a more profound way that evening. Saddened to learn of their crisis, Sarah and James were nevertheless glad to know that the family was being taken care of and were in good hands with The Road Home volunteers and staff. Sarah says, “We left them that night confident they would find success in the program.”
On behalf of our families, we would like to thank each and every volunteer who has helped our families on their road home.