Although my life has not been touched by homelessness, I’ve have had hard economic years that have taken me closer to rough waters than I ever thought possible. So, I feel a lot of empathy for anyone that is going through a rough patch of life. If you also can understand, or at least sympathize with this oh-so-common plight in life, The Road Home is a fantastic place to volunteer your time. And, being a non-profit organization, they rely on volunteer hours to continue operating and helping so many people.
The Road Home used to be called The Homeless Committee, Inc. and was run by Travelers Aid Society as a non-profit 501c3 organization. It was started in September 1988 after the unfortunate death of a homeless man encouraged local leaders to address the need for a homeless shelter. In 2001, Travelers Aid Society changed the name to The Road Home as they felt this better reflected the mission of the agency, which is, “to help people step out of homelessness and back into our community.” Although The Road Home does run a homeless shelter, they provide so much more.
They treat everyone that comes through their doors equally (in fact that is part of their core values). Because of this, they make it their mission to provide personalized care for every person/family. They offer emergency shelter, housing programs (to help the homeless find permanent housing quickly) and offer help to get over the issues that might have caused them to become homeless so they can avoid the situation in the future. These are the exact programs one needs to get back on their feet and feel like they can get through this difficult time and persevere. This is why I absolutely love this program. So much more than just a one-night roof over your head or a warm meal…although those are so important to people experiencing homelessness. They have an 87% success rate, meaning once they help someone, they don’t come back to a shelter 87% of the time! Amazing!
So, what can we do to help? Like I said, The Road Home needs volunteers to keep running efficiently and provide the help and care that they do. For that reason, they have many different volunteer programs. If you’re interested in volunteering on an ongoing basis, there are different opportunities, such as working at the front desk in either the Family Shelter or Emergency Services, being an on-call Language Interpreter, and helping the kid’s learn to love reading that would work well for you. If you have a church or other group of people interested in volunteering, they always love the showing people hands-on what they do to help out the community. And of course, the holidays are a great time to offer your assistance for those in need.
The Road Home has many programs going on during the holidays to help the men, women and families with children that are seeking their assistance:
1. Candy Cane Corner: Every December, The Road Home offers a holiday store for the families in shelter and housing programs called Candy Cane Corner. This store gives parents the opportunity to select gifts for their children. The store is stocked with new, unwrapped donations from the community. Volunteers are needed throughout the month to sort through donations and to wrap gifts. Volunteers must be 16 years or older for this opportunity. You can sign up to volunteer and get more information at www.candycanecornerslc.org .
2. Holiday Broadcast: Ten local radio stations broadcast live from the The Road Home Shelter (210 S. 455 W.) on December 19th and 20th an encourage their listeners to donate items or make financial contributions. The acceptance of items runs through December 24th. Money and items collected during the event go straight to provide services to homeless men, women and families. Volunteers are needed to help collect and sort through donations. Shifts run in 2-hour increments 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. You can sign up for this opportunity or get more information at www.signupgenius.com . Volunteers must be 12 years or older.
3. Warehouse Help: If you have a group looking for volunteer opportunities, consider helping in The Road Home’s warehouse. Here, volunteers are needed to accept, sort, and organize donations. Groups should be 10 people or less. Hours are 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily.
4. Donation Drive/Cleaning Kits: With the ever-increasing numbers, The Road Home is always looking for donations. Top items needed currently are socks, underwear, XXXL clothing, thermals, diapers, baby wipes and formula. Cleaning kits are needed which include: windex, Lysol wipes, paper towels, toilet cleaner, dish soap and sponges, mops, brooms, etc.
In addition to volunteering your time, The Road Home also offers benefit events several times a year in which the proceeds go to help run The Road Home. the next upcoming event is the Sallybytheway Christmas Choral Concert on December 13th at 7:30 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Tickets are $10 at the door. And, of course, they also accept monetary donations throughout the year.
If you’re looking for a worthwhile organization to spend your time, and/or money on this holiday season, consider The Road Home, and help those members of our community that need it the most. For more information about The Road Home and volunteer opportunities, visit their website at www.theroadhome.org . To Volunteer, you can visit their website, or email Volunteer Coordinator, Kelli Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Happy Giving Tuesday!!