Ansche Chesed Men’s Shelter
“Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts.” — Genesis 18:4-5
Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, Ansche Chesed’s men’s homeless shelter operates 365 days a year. Every night the shelter serves 10 male guests who have been pre-screened by our partners, the Mainchance Drop-In Center (part of Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services), Project Reachout (part of Goddard Riverside Community Center) and the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. The organizations provide showers, food, and clothing; medical and psychiatric care; and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. They also help the clients to collect benefits and manage their money. After staying at Ansche Chesed’s and other shelters for a while, clients often move into subsidized or transitional housing.
The shelter’s role is to be a safe place for guests to wash, eat, relax, and sleep. On any given night, most, if not all, of the guests will be men who have stayed at the shelter before. Many of them spend nights at the shelter for weeks or months at a time, the continuity helping to foster a familiar atmosphere, a sense of responsibility toward the shelter and a feeling of community.
Think about becoming a volunteer, if only for a single shift on a single night. We will arrange orientation to suit your schedule.
Volunteering is easy and requires no experience. In fact, the shelter practically runs itself or, to be more accurate, the shelter is run by the people it serves. The guests retrieve their fold-out beds and food from the area where they are stored, and clean up at night and before they leave. Volunteers report a sense of role reversal, saying that they often feel like the guests while the guests themselves feel very much at home.
The guests’ familiarity with the shelter makes the volunteer’s role more like that of a good manager who stands back, lets the workers do what they know how to do, and intervenes, instructs, guides and troubleshoots only when absolutely necessary.
The shelter has two volunteer shifts that together cover the entire period during which guests are with is. The person volunteering for the opening shift, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, greets the guests and unlocks the supply cabinet and storage closet. The person volunteering for the overnight shift, from 9:00 pm to 6:30 am, locks up before leaving.
A single person usually works a given shift, although couples or pairs of friends are welcome to do a shift together. Volunteers have a separate room where they can read, work, study, use the phone, and, for the later shift, sleep on the cot provided. A private bathroom adjoins the room.
To learn more about the shelter or to volunteer for one or more shifts, please contact Ansche.Chesed.Shelter@gmail.com or call the shelter voicemail (212) 865-0600, ext. 212.