Those in charge of Squamish’s homeless shelter are appealing to the community for volunteers to help with front-line duties and help give managers more time to co-ordinate the wide variety of programs under their umbrella.
Officials at the Helping Hands Society appealed for help to fill “a shortfall in the kitchen to work alongside… our front-line support workers assisting with meal service to allow managers to concentrate on other tasks,” read a group email sent out on Feb. 27 by Rick McKinney, Helping Hands manager/case worker.
While the homeless shelter and meal service is the best-known service offered by Helping Hands, the three paid managers working for the society also do client case referrals, community outreach, funding research and grant writing and administer programs that include community gardening, brown-bag lunches and weekend groceries, McKinney wrote in the email.
Helping Hands is currently trying to launch a “food rescue” program that sees volunteers visit Squamish grocery stores to pick up perishable food that’s nearing its “best before” date but is still usable.
“Our managers are trying to get that program going,” McKinney said.
Managers also need time away from regular duties to continue planning for a proposed relocation of the homeless-shelter beds to a new location. The move would allow the society to use the current Third Avenue location to be used exclusively as a meal preparation and serving venue.
McKinney said Helping Hands normally has about 50 volunteers who provide from two hours per month on up. Day-shift volunteers normally come in from 10 or 11 a.m. to 1 or 2 p.m., he said. Whatever works within the volunteers’ schedules is greatly appreciated, he said.
“If we could have a couple of volunteers a day, that would really help,” he said. “It could be a couple-three hours in a shift at the critical times. There are meal times, but lots of other things like donations, or sorting laundry.
“With all the stuff going on, we really just need to free up managers to do all that other work, aside from preparing the meals and so forth. There are three of us and we’re just run off our feet right now. If we could get some help with those tasks, it would be a big help.”
For more information about helping Helping Hands, please phone (604) 815-4984, email McKinney at email@example.com or drop by the shelter.