Thursday, November 3, 2011

Out Of The Cold Shelter - Volunteer Opportunity

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 (OTCS) provided a safe and welcoming environment for up to 15 people each night - including men, women, transgendered persons, and youth - during the coldest winter months. It was staffed by volunteers and supported by an on-call committee that works by consensus and is made up of representatives from several agencies and shelters, as well as concerned citizens.

This shelter is a community based response to homelessness and the current housing crisis in our city. 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 the end of November and ending on April 30.

This shelter has revived a sense of community where we take responsibility to support each other against an economic and political system that is failing to meet people’s basic needs.

What To Do if You're Interested?

Monday, November 14th - 6:30-8:00
Tuesday, November 15th – 12:00-1:00

Location: Saint Matthew's United Church (1479 Barrington Street)

Please use the side door, which is located on the north side of the building, at the bottom of the outdoor set of stairs. (please note: both sessions are the same, but the lunch hour session will be condensed to fit into the lunch hour)

We invite you to attend one of two information sessions that will explain what volunteering at the shelter may be like, how the shelter will be run, the many forms volunteering can take as well as gives you a chance to ask questions.

Volunteer staff must complete a volunteer application (attached), a criminal record check, an interview with a member of the on-call team, and attend trainings including:

Shelter Operations Orientation (Policies & Procedures)
Non-Violent Crisis Intervention
Conflict Management
Overdose Education
Street Health
First Aid
Anti-Oppressive Training


If you volunteered with the shelter in the 10/11 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.

Interview sign up sheets will be displayed at both information sessions. Please contact me if you are unable to attend either information session but would like to sign up for an interview. Interviews must be completed before beginning training sessions.

Volunteer Opportunities

The types of volunteer opportunities that we have available are:

Evening Shifts

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

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

The morning shift is short, but busy. Responsibilities include waking people up, preparing a light breakfast, helping people with what they need for the day, and cleaning up.


In general, we ask that all volunteers commit to a minimum of one shift biweekly. With the intention of creating strong working groups, this year we are asking that volunteers commit to regular shifts, either weekly or biweekly (e.g. every other Tuesday evening, every Monday morning). However, we also need a group of volunteers whose schedules are flexible and are able to take on last-minute cancellations.

Over the past three seasons OTCS has attracted a strong and dedicated group of volunteers. The commitment level is considerable, but so too are the rewards.


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.


Assisting with food
We could use breakfast foods such as muffins and baked goods. We also use lots of milk, juice, and coffee.
Assisting with Laundry
We always need help with laundry. This can include: pick ups, drop offs, and contacting hotels and Laundromats to ask for free services.
Assisting with Grocery Shopping
Can you or your organization sponsor a night of groceries per week or per month? Could you do a regular grocery run for the shelter if we gave you a gift card and a list?
Assisting with Transportation
Things need to be moved around, and if you have a car and are able to help out with moving (supplies, laundry, meals, other volunteers without vehicles, etc.), it would be very helpful.
Can you or your group provide a hot meal for the shelter once a week or once a month? If so, please contact our meal coordinator Ann at
Donations Coordinator
The Out of the Cold shelter is looking for a volunteer Donations Coordinator. This position will be supported by the volunteer coordinator and will be hugely appreciated.
Social Media Coordinator
This year we are looking for someone to take on the role of social media coordinator.

If any of these positions interest you, please contact Jocelyne at
Thank you so much for your continued support and interest!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Jocelyne Tranquilla
Volunteer Coordinator
Out of the Cold Shelter

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