Category Archives: shelter

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

dumpster donation, 8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, shelter help
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

Summer Soak, 8 Ways You Can Help Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore Today, Power wash, shelter wash
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

Calling all Shaw’s Stamp Collectors! The deadline is Dec. 13th.

Based on the success of their stamp collection campaign last fall, Judith Patt and the members of the Promise Church in Weymouth are at it again this year. They are collecting and redeeming extra stamps from the annual Shaw’s Supermarket stamp promotion.

But the deadline is fast approaching, so there’s no time to waste! Continue reading Calling all Shaw’s Stamp Collectors! The deadline is Dec. 13th.

Meet Tandah Etienne: Tireless Advocate for Homeless Families

Our new Program Director returns “home” to work on behalf of  homeless families

When Tandah Etienne arrived at Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore this summer as the new Program Director, it was a return to her roots. In fact, Tandah’s work as an advocate for homeless families began when she was a student at Eastern Nazarene College. Back then, she volunteered at Friends of the Homeless under the direction of then Executive Director Dorothy Newell.

Since then, Tandah has worked as an advocate for homeless families and individuals in a variety of settings including: Continue reading Meet Tandah Etienne: Tireless Advocate for Homeless Families

Promise Church shows how small donations bring big benefits for families leaving shelters

See how small donations bring big benefits

A photo from Promise Church offers proof that even small donations bring big benefits. The church collected Shaw’s stamps shoppers didn’t need and turned them into bakeware for shelter families moving into new homes. Continue reading Promise Church shows how small donations bring big benefits for families leaving shelters

Former Homeless Shelter Guest Reinforces Importance of Our Work

A wonderful story about a former homeless shelter guest  — with a powerful message — from Executive Director Herb Newell …

There are times when all of us who work in family sheltering have felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need. We see the seeming intransigence of current problems, and know all too well the mentally tough work. At those times it’s important to remember that we have been – and continue to be – a significant part of the response to homeless shelter guests needing help and guidance.

I was reminded of the enormous impact our work can have during a recent visit to our Furniture Bank. Continue reading Former Homeless Shelter Guest Reinforces Importance of Our Work

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.

First Home with Friends Family Strides Toward Independence

Home with Friends has a success story to share with you. For our dedicated volunteers, generous donors, ever-energetic supporters, old and new friends, here is the update you have been asking for on our new Home with Friends program from Program Director Lora Wooster. See below for her list of things you can do to help support the families.

They Always seem happy to see me!

St. Paul's, Home With FriendsThe first family in our Home with Friends program – Deanne and her pre-school son – lived at our Norwell shelter for almost 3 years. She began meeting with the mentoring team from St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene in Duxbury last year. And despite some self-doubt at the start, she has since made great strides toward self-sufficiency.

Perhaps that is why, when asked about her experience with her mentors, she beams. One of the things she likes best about meeting with them, she says, is that “they always seem so happy to see me!”

Confidence to Meet Her Goals

When she joined the program, Deanne (not her real name) who is in her late twenties, had already faced a number of life challenges and disappointments that damaged her self-confidence and resilience. She grew up with her grandmother while her parents was incarcerated. She never finished high school, and she held a series of unskilled, low-paying jobs. But with encouragement from her mentoring team — and the Secure Jobs program at Father Bill’s and Mainspring – she:

  • completed her GED last October
  • moved into her first apartment in March
  • started training to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in June and
  • found a part-time job at a local hospital in July

Next: A new Career & No Subsidy

She got high marks in her CNA classes and graduated as a Certified Nursing Assistant on September 3rd. That means she is more than ready for the next challenge: to find a full time job that keeps her on her career path in nursing so she can afford an apartment on her own. Up to now she has had a rental subsidy from the state. Now that the subsidy has ended, her mentoring team’s church, St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene in Duxbury, will provide a decreasing rental subsidy for another year.

Car Troubles and a Short-Term Fix

Along the way, Deanne has been learning that it takes time and effort to build the life skills and confidence that will help her succeed. She is also learning that there will be occasional setbacks that she will need to overcome. For example, when her car died recently, she was able to resurrect it for the time being with the help of her mentoring team and a local mechanic. Unfortunately, the car probably will not last until winter, and she needs it to keep her job. (See our “What we need now” wish list below.)

Her Chance to “Grow and Bloom”

Daylilies, day lilies, Home With FriendsLike the daylilies that survived the heat and drought of my garden this summer, Deanna has overcome many challenges to grow and bloom. And even though she still worries about her finances – she tells me that she could not have made it this far without her social worker and her mentoring team.

Two More Families Matched with Mentors

Highrock NorthSt combinedWe now have two more families on board and teamed up with wonderful mentoring teams from North Street Community Church of the Nazarene and Highrock Covenant Church of Quincy. Both moms are working and one moved into an apartment with her son in August; the other is still looking for an affordable apartment. I will bring you more details in a future update.

What We Need Now for Home With Friends

  • Deanne needs a halfway-decent used car. If you have one you would like to donate, you could receive a tax deduction for its value, and Deanne would know that she will be able to get to work this winter. Contact me.

 

  • We continue to need funding for staff to provide case management for families and to train and equip volunteers to minister to families in motels. If you would like to organize a fundraiser, please let us know, or to donate right now, use the donate button on the Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore website. (Please do not use our old PO Box)

 

  • Please help us increase the awareness of family homelessness in Boston and on the South Shore. You can do this by:
    • Inviting me to speak with the groups you’re involved with at your church or in your community.

 

  • Subscribing to the FHSS blog to hear more stories!

 

Thank you for your acts of compassion and your sharing, giving attitudes in the past – and the future! God’s love has shown through you.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Lora Wooster is the Program Director for our Home with Friends program, she can be reached at homewithfriends@gmail.com 617-939-3709