Category Archives: children

8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today

Herb Newell, Executive Director, Shares Ways You Can Help Family Shelters

Ways to Help Family Homeless Shelters During Covid-19, 8 Ways to Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore

I’ve always been thankful for the incredible kindness, energy, and generosity shown by our friends over the years. Still, it was a wonderful surprise to receive so many notes and calls offering to help us during this difficult time. Despite having the Covid-19 crisis upend your lives, you’ve been eager and willing to lend a hand to others. That’s why I created the list below.

I hope it will answer your questions about the support Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore needs right now – and in the months ahead. Please call our Weymouth office at 781-340-1604 or text me at 781-413-7018. For more details or to arrange a delivery time.

We Need Your Assistance at a Safe Distance

Most of these suggestions show ways you can help that don’t involve close contact with others. That’s because we’ve had to suspend all of our group volunteer programs in and around our shelters. This includes our furniture bank, tutors and play space volunteers, and our housing “makeovers”. For your health and ours we can’t have people come to our shelters during this time of social distancing.

You can imagine how difficult this situation has been for our staff. Instead of depending on onsite volunteers, they must take on the extra responsibility for whatever needs to be done. Yet, day after day, they continue to show their willingness to help in any way they can. Quite frankly, they can use a lot of prayers as the stress factor has been enormous.

They can also use your help with the following vital tasks and equipment:

1. Virtual Volunteers for Tutoring and Fun

tutor, distance tutoring, homeless shelter tutors, 8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, distance learning

Providing children at the shelter with learning experiences has always been tough. It’s even more challenging in the close quarters caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. But we don’t want them to fall behind in their studies. That’s why we’re looking for virtual tutors for our younger shelter guests.

If you have experience tutoring or teaching others, or would like to give it a try, give us a call at 781-340-1604. All you need is your computer and a Zoom or Skype account and the willingness to help a young student accomplish their learning goals.

We’re also looking for Virtual Volunteers who want to read or tell stories, sing, talk, exercise, or play games with our kids individually or as family units.

2. Mask Making for Adults and Kids

mask, child mask, adult mask, 8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today

If you’re making face masks from home or have extras to spare, we’d love a few to protect our staff and guests. We’re especially in need of masks that active and young children can actually keep on. I’m sure you’ve experienced that with your kids. What really works?

3. Lawn Mowing and Light Maintenance

lawn mowing, maintenance, 8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today

Even during the Coronavirus, the grass still grows at our shelters. And it will continue to grow all summer long. You can use your own mower and tools or try ours. Either way, if you’re interested in sharing your lawn maintenance expertise, please call the shelter to set up a time to come by. Of course, we can use this help all summer long!

4. Spring Planting

8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, flower box, spring planting

Here are two great projects for those with green thumbs.

  • Window Boxes: Because we don’t want Covid-19 to rob our families of spring flowers, we’re determined to plant them in every window box. We have a generous donor/volunteer from “CityScapes” who will donate flowers and one of our guests is growing flowers from seed. This will make the shelter community look beautiful. It will also be a fun project for each family to care for their own flower box outside their guest rooms.
  • Community Garden: It has been my personal dream to have a community garden with vegetables every summer. I have a stand with 150 plants growing from seeds and I’d like to get this underway in the next few weeks. I think it will be a fun project for the guests and staff alike – at the appropriate distance, of course.

5. Data Driven Volunteers  

8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, data entry, database, volunteer

If you have experience keeping a database and a few days you can spare for virtual training, we’d love your help. We will introduce you to our databases and show you how you can use your skills keeping Friends of the Homeless data up to date.

We use three kinds of data:

  1. Information to keep up to date on our friends and families: who we help, how we help them, and who helps us.
  2. Data that we need to provide to our donors, grantors, and government about how we help our shelter guests.
  3. Financial data we need to keep a small nonprofit running.

If you have experience in any of these areas, we’d love your help.

6. Chromebooks or Laptops for Student Distance Learning

8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, chromebook, laptop

Thank you to the Weymouth and Quincy Schools for providing laptops for our students from those schools. Still, some of our children in other school systems do not have their own computers or learning devices. That means they need to do their assignments using the minimal resources in our shelter office; and often that means missing deadlines or falling behind on their study goals.

We know that donating a Chromebook laptop sounds like a lot to ask, but it will make a huge difference to all of us. If you have a laptop that you are not using, would you consider donating it for our students to learn?

Another option: If you have an old laptop that’s gathering dust, you may be able to convert it to one that a student can use. Check out this site to see if an update is possible. Or watch this YouTube video for ideas on how you can make an older laptop computer usable for our students.

Whether it’s new or newly configured, please consider a laptop donation. Then call us at 781-340-1604 to arrange a delivery time.

7. Gift Cards and Check Donations

8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, Giftcards, Checks, cash donations, donation

Gift card and check donations are always welcome in our shelters. If you use gift cards, remember you’ll be supporting local shops experiencing lower sales during this Covid-19 crisis too. And because both types of donations can go through the mail, you’re protecting the staff and guests as well.

Cards and gift checks can be mailed to: Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore, PO Box 202, North Weymouth, MA 02191.

8. Other Covid-19 Supplies

8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today. coronavirus, covid-19, paper products, shelter needs

Like everyone else, we’re in need of:

  • Face masks (especially child-size)
  • Gloves
  • Purell or other hand sanitizer (must be 60% alcohol or higher)
  • Rubbing alcohol (must be 70% alcohol)
  • Disinfectants or disinfectant wipes (Clorox, Lysol, etc.)
  • Soap and other hygiene products
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels

We also need games, crafts, and art supplies to keep kids of all ages active (from infants to high school seniors). Sidewalk chalk is super! Gooey messy stuff, not so much …

And, of course, we’re always in need of diapers for our youngest guests.

If you’d like to donate any of these items, please call our Weymouth office at 781-340-1604 to arrange a delivery day and time.

Get Ready! Summer Projects in the Queue (potentially July 1, 2020)

Once we’re able to get out and about again, our shelters will have a lot of ‘catch-up’ projects to do. We expect to be able to start hosting volunteer groups starting July 1, 2020. Here’s what we’ll need:

  • Maintenance Projects and Room Makeovers

Help a Homeless during covid-19, summer projects, DIY, maintenance
Do you have a few hours, a day, or a week to lend us a hand? We would love to talk to you about hosting you or your group at our facilities in Norwell or Weymouth. At Friends, we need your help with things like cutting up and moving the tree that fell last winter – and fixing the trailer it fell on!

We also need help cleaning out and remodeling one of our guest rooms. There is so much to do and so few hands to do it these days!

  • Dumpster Donation

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We’re looking for a group that might want to sponsor a dumpster rental – or a trash disposal company that could donate one – so we can clear out unneeded items from the Furniture Bank this summer. Of course your group could also join us to help organize the furniture and demolish and discard the unneeded items.  

  • Summer Soak

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Nope! It’s not a hot tub. But our “Summer Soak” is a refreshing volunteer opportunity for youths and young adults. Simply put, it’s a “car wash” for the siding of our shelter units that removes built up dirt due to passing traffic during the winter. Volunteers will:

— take down the flower boxes and move outside furniture, building by building

— power wash the outside of the buildings until they are sparkling clean

— move everything back to where it was

This is a great volunteer project for people who don’t mind getting a little wet in the hot summer sun!

Finally my special thanks to …

8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, thank you

  • Our Staff and Volunteers

The dedicated “Band of Brothers” (actually, mostly Sisters) who step up to serve homeless families every day – Covid-19 notwithstanding!

  • Emergency Sanitizing Service

Rev. Dennis Scott came out of retirement to lead the crew that is helping us stay squeaky clean during the Covid-19 emergency. They expertly clean and sanitize our common areas every day and guest rooms once a week. So we all have one less chore to worry about!

  • North River Community Church

They generously donated Easter Dinners to our guest families. And each dinner was delivered with 4 new storage tubs to help families organize their rooms so our new sanitizing effort would be more effective.

  • Norwell Food Pantry, Norwell Schools, Weymouth Food Pantry, Weymouth Schools

Covid-19 has put a strain on our family’s food budgets. These wonderworkers are providing extra food for our children and parents at a time of great need!

  • Dan Hoskins, Mike Berry, Josh Houston, Peter Scanlon, and Nathan Scott

We thank Dan for helping us restore a fence with damage at our Norwell location so kids could play safely. Mike made an emergency electrical repair. Josh of Huston Construction Solutions of Raynham, MA covered a leaking roof after a windstorm. Peter fixed a badly broken door. And Nathan helped us set up computers and large screen TVs for Skype and Zoom meetings. All keeping proper distancing in mind, of course.

Thanks again to all of you for your generous donations of skills, time, and materials. We’re grateful to have your ongoing support.

We Greatly Appreciate Our Supporters

I’d also like to thank YOU in advance for any assistance you can offer to our staff and families during these extraordinary times.
With your help, and God’s grace, we will soon emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.

5 Easy Ways You Can Help Homeless Families This Holiday Season

So Many Ways You Can Help Homeless Families This Season 

Just in time for the holidays, we made our list – and checked it twice! – of 5 easy ways you can help homeless families on the South Shore this season. Some are super easy to do. Others give you a chance to enjoy the spirit of the holiday season while your contribution goes to helping us put an end homelessness on the South Shore.

Either way, you’re sure to find an activity that will make this year’s celebration more meaningful and joyous than ever! Some fun ways to help homeless families are: Continue reading 5 Easy Ways You Can Help Homeless Families This Holiday Season

Norwell Kids Get New Play Space, Built in Record Time

1 + 1 + 14 + 4 = 170 Square Foot Fence for Norwell Kids’ Safety!

South Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell Children, fence, project, AVO Fence, Weymouth, MA
Art Carol of AVO Fence and Nancy O’Neill who led the fence-building effort in Norwell.

How 1 woman’s determination, 1 donor’s generosity, and 14 energetic volunteers gave the kids in Norwell a safe place to play outside — in just 4 weeks. 

It was a warm and sunny day in August this year when Nancy O’Neil decided that enough was enough. It was high time that the Norwell children who attended the inside play space program at the Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore’s Norwell shelter got the chance to play outdoors too.

But first she needed to find the resources to build a fence so they could play safely in the shelter’s outside play area.

Giving Norwell Kids a Safe Outdoor Play Space

O’Neil, a volunteer play activity leader for the Horizons for Homeless Children Play Space Program, knows the importance of outdoor play. She worked in high school and college-level athletics and health for more than three decades before becoming a consultant for athletic education and wellness.

“If there’s one thing that kids have in common, it’s energy. And lots of it!” says O’Neil. That’s why they need a safe place to play outdoors. “Even if you don’t have a place to call your own, you still want your kids to be safe,” she says.

So she reached out to Herb Newell, Executive Director of Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore and his staff and volunteers for their assistance. Sharyn Burden, Assistant Program Director at the Norwell shelter became a key supporter, fielding calls and providing valuable insight. Another volunteer created a 2-page flyer to give to potential donors. Little did we imagine our Norwell kids would have their fence so quickly.

Persistence Pays Off — Quickly

South Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell Children, fence, project, AVO Fence, Weymouth, MA
Art Caron loads up fence panels for delivery to Norwell shelter.

It was O’Neil’s dogged determination to get the fence built ASAP that made all the difference. In fewer than 4 weeks after she started her effort:

  • Art Caron of AVO Fence & Supply in Plymouth, MA generously donated over 170 feet of fencing panels.
  • Atlantic Fence in Raynham, MA donated all of the posts.
  • O’Neil and a friend picked up and delivered the panels to the Norwell location. Caron  picked up and delivered the posts.
  • Enough cash donations were received to rent an auger and set aside money for maintenance.
  • Newell and O’Neil assembled a team of volunteers to get the fence installed.

On Sunday, September 18th Caron, his staff, and a few helpers set the corners and began the build. Then, on Saturday, September 24, a full crew of volunteers “dug in” to build the fence and make the outdoor play space for our Norwell kids a reality — in just 4 hours!

South Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell Children, fence, projectSouth Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell Children, fence, projectSouth Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell Children, fence, project

South Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell ChildrenSouth Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell ChildrenSouth Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell Children, fence, project

“We did it!” says O’Neil. “With the leadership of Art Caron at AVO Fence and the help of a tremendous team, we finished the fence!  And it is beautiful!  The youngsters will soon enjoy the out of doors during their play space time. YIPPEE!! HUGE thanks to all who contributed.”

In addition to O’Neil and Caron (“total project hero” says O’Neil), the volunteer construction crew included Marci Stoda, Paula Myers, Judy Katalina, Nancy Martens, Nancy Bilodeau, Herb Newell, and Kenny Dustin.

Still Needed: A Few Finishing Touches

South Shore, Shelter, volunteers, Norwell Kids, Norwell Children
The team that built the fence at the Norwell shelter in record time pose for a final photo. Front row (left to right): Marci Stoda, Nancy O’Neil, and Paula Myers. Back row (left to right): Judy Katalina, Art Caron (fence team leader from AVO fence). Nancy Martens, Nancy Bilodeau, Herb Newell, Kenny Dustin.

Of course, the work isn’t completely done, admits O’Neil. “We still have to fill in with a couple of gates for access and the hardware to go with them.” But Director Newell’s connection to Habitat for Humanity volunteers will soon make this happen, she says. The gates are scheduled for completion during the week of October 3.

Thank You!

To everyone mentioned above AND the many other generous donors whose time and money helped us make the fence a reality, we cannot say thank you enough! You have made a big difference for our Norwell kids and their parents. Thank you for your support in making a difference in children’s lives on the South Shore of Boston as a whole! We invite you to connect with us on Facebook.

Maybe fence building isn’t your thing? Don’t worry, we have many ways you can help, either by volunteering or donating. Which ever way you chose will make a great impact on our children in shelter.

Baby Bundles: Deliver Supplies, Smiles for New Moms in Shelters

Baby bundles deliver so much joy! Bringing home a new baby is one of life’s most exciting events. But what if your “home” is in a shelter or motel?

infant, baby bundles, newborn

Thanks to the efforts of dozens of Baby Bundles’ donors and volunteers, the day a Mom and her newborn return to transitional housing may be a little brighter.

A big bin filled to the brim for Moms in small spaces

Newborn Baby Bundles gives new moms in transitional housing just about all of the things
they need for the first few weeks. Each Baby Bundle bin holds:

  • baby, Newborn diapers (up to 3 months)
  • Wipes and baby toiletries
  • Blankets, towels and washcloths
  • Sleep Sack
  • New baby onesies, outfits
  • Bibs, socks, hand mitts
  • Toy, book and pacifiers
  • Comfort shawl and toiletries for Mom

“We pack all of this into a single, large plastic bin, so each Mom also has a handy storage place when her living space is small,” says program director Susan Donnelly.

Diaper Drives and Baby Showers make Baby Bundles a success

Donnelly is one of the many energetic volunteers from St. Albert’s Parish in Weymouth. She works on Baby Bundles’ donations, collection, and communications. Volunteers make visits to other local churches, schools, and community organizations. They encourage these organizations to sponsor “baby showers” and diaper drives where items for newborns can be donated.

 

Who Has Participated in Baby Bundles So Far?

Groups who have sponsored these events have included: Church Hill United Methodist, Norwell; St. Albert the Great, St. Francis Xavier, Pilgrim and Old South Union churches in Weymouth; Resurrection Parish, Hingham; and the Colonial Village Knitting Club in Weymouth. And moreso, they have been very generous with donations.

“Their generosity has allowed us to deliver bundles to 16 families so far [as of this post], and we have another scheduled for mid-January,” says Betsy Clifford, pastoral associate at St. Albert – St. Francis Collaborative Parishes. Clifford, who has delivered several of the Baby Bundles herself, has seen the joy and hope the bundles give to new and expectant parents. “They are absolutely delighted to know someone cares,” she says.

To learn more about contributing to or volunteering for Baby Bundles, contact Susan Donnelly or email us and  someone will get your the information.

Norwell Recreation Department: Summer Fun and Great Memories

Norwell Recreation Logo--full address-02Norwell Recreation Department and Norwell Schools deserve a great big “Thank You!” The generosity of local community organizations, and the hard work of the staff at Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore made it all possible. Eight children living in temporary shelter or motel rooms went back to school this fall with plenty of stories to tell when their teachers asked, “What did you do this summer?”

The boys and girls, ages 5 through 12, were selected for the Norwell Recreation Department’s pilot initiative. This initiative offered 6-week scholarships to the town’s summer recreation programs for kids from kindergarten to 8th grade.

“Our day-long programs give kids the opportunity to get outside and get active, socialize with friends, and do a variety of things they wouldn’t do if they stayed at home,” explains Recreation Department Superintendent George Grey. (According to their brochure: No electronic games allowed.) “And from what we heard from the parents and the kids, they had a blast!” he says.

Who Gets These Ideas?

Grey and Michelle Henderson, social workers for the Norwell schools, came up with the idea in early June. The idea was to give under-served children in the town’s schools a chance to participate in the Rec Department’s summer activities. Tuition was covered by the Recreation Department’s Scholarship Fund. However, additional registration and transportation costs were needed to be taken care of before the program could get underway.

Go Team!

That is where ace coordinator Sharyn Burden from Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore stepped in. “Fortunately, we were able to secure generous donations from local residents and organizations such as: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Norwell Police, Masonic Angel Foundation, and Friends of Norwell Kids in Need to pay for program registration and driving the children to and from their activities each day,” says Burden. “We can’t thank them enough for giving the kids such a wonderful opportunity.”

Shout Out to Norwell Recreation and Norwell Schools

Norwell Recreation and Norwell Schools worked together to arrange for staff and a vehicle to transport the participants. Burden quickly coordinated the schedules to and from program sites.

KinderScene

Norwell Recreation, Norwell, FHSS

Two of the children attended the KinderScene sessions at the Town Hall for ages 4 to 1st grade where daily activities included games, crafts, songs, stories and outdoor fun.
Five of the children were in the KidScene camp at Vinal School where 2nd-5th grade children enjoyed field sports, soccer, Dr. Spy dodgeball, music, games, and crafts. This year’s KidScene 4th and 5th graders also went on field trips to Launch Trampoline in Norwood and Boston Bowl in Dorchester.

SummerScene

Norwell Recreation, FHSS

The middle school camper who attended the SummerScene program (for grades 6 to 8 – another Norwell Recreation program) had the opportunity to participate in the camp’s daily on-site activities and take day trips to Canobie Lake Park, Water Wizz, Boston Paintball, Lazer Gate, and Metro Rock.
Popular theme days for all campers this year were “Olympics Day,” “Messy Day,” the “Wacky Wednesday” inflatable obstacle course, and “Foam Day” where Norwell firemen joined the fun by using firetruck foam to create what Grey calls “the wildest slip-and-slide this side of Boston.”

Would they do it all again next summer? “YES!” said participants. “Absolutely,” says Grey. “The success of this pilot means we’ll be looking at sponsoring kids again in the summer of 2016.”

Tell Us Your Thoughts?

We are grateful to Norwell Recreation and Norwell Schools, among other organizations for their partnership with us. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about future school vacation events. shelter life is not just a seasonal event, it can be year round for some families. You may leave a reply or go to our  Facebook or Google+ pages.

Trunk or Treat

Living Hope Four Square Church in Hanover invited our guests from Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore to Trunk or Treat last Sunday.  This event brought a lot of joy to parents and children like.

What is Trunk or Treat?

Well, it’s like a Halloween tailgate party for our shelter guests and their children. They wander trunk to trunk gathering their bounty of delectable treats. The children also had a chance to show off their costumes too! Along with playing lots of fun games where they could win prizes. All we can say was it was a real treat for all!

Here are some pictures from the Trunk or Treat event. Tell us below or on our Facebook page what events you plan to put on during the holidays.

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