Out of the Cold Emergency Shelter



Out of the Cold is recruiting volunteers for the 2019/20 season!

Contact volunteerotcs@gmail.com with questions or to submit an application!  

Volunteer Application Form 
Out of the Cold Shelter (OTCS) is looking for dedicated volunteers to help run a winter shelter and community drop-in space this winter.

OTCS provides a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, ages 16 and up. The organization is staffed by volunteers, paid staff, and volunteer organizers with the support of several community agencies.

This organization is a community-based response to homelessness in our city.  We are seeking dedicated volunteers to help staff the shelter and community drop-in. All volunteers will receive training.
We are looking for volunteers to do evening, overnight, and morning front line shifts at the shelter, beginning December 1 and ending April 30th. We are also looking for volunteers to provide other types of support, such as fundraising, food, help with laundry, and help with community programming.


New Volunteers
New Volunteers must complete a volunteer application, meet with the Volunteer Coordinator for a short interview, and attend an orientation session (dates and times to be announced).  These sessions will go into greater detail about why Out of the Cold exists and what volunteers can expect as part of the team. More information is also available here. Please send your completed applications to volunteerotcs@gmail.com.

New volunteers are also required to complete a criminal record check.  Criminal record checks can be completed online at mybackcheck.com , or in person at a Halifax Regional Police station.  Online applications are typically processed faster than in person.  The cost is $30- if this is a barrier to volunteering, let Stephanie know at volunteerotcs@gmail.com

 Location for all orientation sessions: Saint Matthew’s United Church (1479 Barrington Street – next to the Maritime Centre). Shelter entrance is down the hill on the north side of the church.
Returning Volunteers
All returning volunteer staff must complete a volunteer application form attend OTCS Shelter Operations Orientation (policies and procedures) session. Other optional training provided may include Non-Violent Crisis Intervention, Conflict Management, and ASIST. Please download the application and return via e-mail to volunteerotcs@gmail.com. Orientation dates will be announced  soon.  Returning volunteers are not required to obtain a new criminal record check if OTCS has one on file from the 2016/17 season.  

Making the Shelter a Reality
Volunteers in previous years have commented that:
“The shelter is a very supportive environment in which to volunteer, and everyone was very welcoming and open to questions.  I did not feel embarrassed when I was unfamiliar with something.”
“Volunteering at the shelter was my first close exposure to people who identify as homeless, it broke down some taboos of what it means to be without a home, allowing me to be more comfortable to have empathy for individual situations without feeling pity.”
“I feel that overall, there was an atmosphere of respect for guests, and respect among volunteers.  I saw potentially tense situations diffused through kindness, courtesy, and a sense of humour.”
“The most positive part of volunteering at the shelter was the sense of community, belonging, common purpose, and sharing a laugh with different guests.”

The types of volunteer opportunities that we have available are:  
Front Line Evening Shifts, 8pm – 11:30pm. 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, managing the drop-in space and community programming, helping people find dry/warm clothes, and responding to any conflicts situations that may arise.
Front Line Overnight Shifts, 11pm – 6:30am. 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 in with folks during the night and doing the occasional intake.
We have a high need for overnight shift volunteers.
Front Line Morning Shifts, 6am – 8:30am. 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 clean-up.
Over the past seven seasons OTCS has attracted a strong and dedicated group of volunteers. The commitment level is considerable, but so too are the rewards.  

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.
We require all volunteers to complete training sessions. Please be advised that not all volunteers who express interest will be accepted.
Volunteering with OTCS 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. 
Can you, your family, your workplace, etc., provide a pre-cooked meal (enough to feed 20 people) to OTCS on a one-time, monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly basis?  OTCS does not have full kitchen facilities and relies on community support to provide regular meals to guests.  Please note – food provided needs to be reheat-able in a microwave or slow-cooker.
Assisting with food

Can you, your family, your workplace, etc., provide other necessary food items, such as sandwiches, muffins, baked goods, etc. on a one-time, monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly basis?  On top of full meals, OTCS strives to have snack items and take-away lunch items available to guests.
Assisting with Laundry
Can you commit to a regular evening when you can pick up laundry, take it to the laundromat, and bring it back to the shelter?
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 Community Programming
Can you or your group plan and organize a programming event to be held in the shelter space for up to 20 people, such as a sports program, cooking night, arts and craft activity?  Please note – these events need to be pre-arranged with the Volunteer and Community Programs Coordinator and are subject to approval.
Assisting with Transportation
Transportation volunteers help out with transportation necessary to shelter operation (supplies, laundry, meals, other volunteers without vehicles, etc.).
Donations volunteers assist with collecting, sorting, and organizing donations to the shelter.
A large portion of our operating funds come from donations and fundraising. We welcome community members and organizations who wish to organize a fundraising event or effort that supports Out of the Cold. Please consult the Volunteer and Community Programs Coordinator before moving forward with fundraising activities, to ensure that they are appropriate and realistic.
Policy & Procedures Manual
Download Here

If any of these positions interest you or you would like more information, please contact the Volunteer and Community Programs Coordinator at volunteerotcs@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for your continued support and interest!