Warming Center Volunteer Handbook

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1 Warming Center Volunteer Handbook (adapted from City of Fremont Warming Center Training Manual) Version 3 1/7/16 Purpose People who serve are the heart of the AHUMC Warming Center. Volunteers provide our guests with basic human needs shelter and safety with a spirit of warmth and hospitality. In this welcoming environment guests feel welcome and are able to maintain their dignity. This handbook provides guidance for volunteers in how to achieve these goals. Volunteer Guidelines Basic requirements to be a good volunteer 1. Shift supervisors and Daily volunteers must be 18 years old. 2. Additional volunteers age must have consent of the volunteer coordinator and signed parent/guardian permission. 3. Shift supervisor must attend an off-site training in order to fill this role. This training can be set up through AHUMC Warming Center 4. Daily volunteers will be given an on-site orientation 5. Treat adults who are unhoused with dignity and as adults and participants a. Respect the privacy of our guests: introduce yourself, but don t pry or hover b. See beyond stereotypes this experience will put a human face on the tragedy of homelessness. Know participants as people, not just the homeless other. Our guests are meeting many people each day, each week, not to mention spending the night with other guests who are strangers at a shelter. This is overwhelming for anyone, but especially so when someone is homeless. c. Some guests are optimistic and open about their situations. Others feel ashamed, humiliated, and alienated from everyone. However, guests cope with their displacement, they find themselves dependent upon others to support their basic needs. Respect their experience. d. Many people who are homeless feel helpless and frustrated and may express these feelings by withdrawing or acting in an angry manner. Some may find it difficult to accept the goodwill of volunteers or to show appreciation. Some may not have the social skills to interact in the way volunteers might think is appropriate. Be understanding of our guests as they go through this severe crisis in their lives. e. Recognize and be sensitive to the frustration and anger that guest may feel. How a guest feels or reacts usually has absolutely nothing to do with the volunteer, but rather with how difficult they find their particular situation. f. Be open to different lifestyles and different values without judging and

2 criticizing. Relate to guests as individuals worthy of trust, respect and the utmost courtesy g. Do small acts of compassion and kindness 6. Remember your role is: not to solve, but to serve a. A daytime visit is not the setting for solving problems b. Volunteers are not trained counselors c. During a brief conversation, be a good listener. If a guest expresses concern to volunteers, ask if you can pass that on to the Warming Center lead volunteer and do so. If in your judgment the information needs to be reported, inform the guest that you are compelled by your agreement with the Warming Center to report potentially dangerous or illegal incidents d. Even though your role is not as a counselor, be a good listener by actively listening. Active listening is paying attention to other people in a manner where they feel that you hear their message and that you fully understand them. At the core of active listening is empathy. The following are healthy active listening skills: i. Listen with empathy ii. Listen carefully to what is being said iii. Attend to non-verbal cues and underlying messages iv. Listen to the circumstances of people s lives v. Listen without interrupting vi. Use words, feelings and body language to convey that you understand what is being said and experienced vii. Listen nonjudgmentally with acceptance and genuineness e. What isn t supportive, do NOT i. Just tell the person to snap out of it ii. Be sarcastic iii. Adopt an overinvolved or overprotective attitude iv. Nag the person to do what he or she would normally do v. Trivialize the person s experiences vi. Belittle or dismiss the person s feelings vii. Speak with a patronizing tone viii. Give into the urge to try to cure the person 7. Maintain our guests confidentiality a. The Warming Center s guests right to confidentiality and privacy must be preserved b. All information obtained from or about a guest is privileged communication. Sharing information about a guest with any outside source without their specific permission is inappropriate and unacceptable c. Issues and concerns should only be discussed with the Warming Center lead volunteer d. It is natural to want to discuss your volunteer experiences with your family and friends, but even when your conversation is in the strictest confidence, you should avoid giving names and other details that might identify guests. Do NOT 2

3 violate trust. e. Do not acknowledge guests in the community unless they acknowledge you first. f. Examples of confidentiality include not sharing information about guests with: i. Your friends or family ii. Other volunteers or guests iii. The police (unless as an official and approved part of your job) 8. Preserve your personal boundaries a. Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person or an organization creates to identify what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him/her and how they will respond when another steps outside those limits (adapted from Wikipedia) b. Knowing our boundaries is important because we: i. Stay objective and avoid over-identifying with a guest s problems ii. Manage ourselves and our emotions iii. Mitigate issues of favoritism so all people are, and feel like they are, treated equally iv. Prevent guests from feeling like you owe them something v. Uphold the professional relationship vi. Create emotional safety for people who are in vulnerable positions c. Examples of good boundaries are: i. Knowing not to lend/give money ii. Don t agree to supervise someone else s children the warming center is not licensed to provide childcare services. iii. Maintaining privacy re: personal information (phone number, address, personal history/life details) iv. Politely declining/accepting substantial gifts v. Decline requests to purchase items for guests vi. Don t give rides in personal vehicle vii. Avoid hanging out with guests outside of work Volunteer Responsibilities 1. Shift supervisor Trained a. Greet all guests and volunteers in a courteous and polite manner b. Responsible for implementation of Warming Center rules and monitoring c. Train daily volunteers in shelter rules and monitoring as well as in treatment of guests with respect and dignity d. Shift supervisor will avoid putting themselves in a position where they are alone with a guest in a secluded area. If a guest requests a private conversation, find a quiet corner of the larger room or move to the CA room but be sure to leave the door open. e. Shift supervisor will never put themselves in a position where they are alone with a child. f. Monitor all Warming Center activities g. Direct and help with shift specific activities 3

4 h. Handle any emergencies and complete incident reports i. Report any maintenance or janitorial needs j. Accept donations and hand out donation receipts 2. Daily Volunteers a. Treat all guests in a courteous and polite manner b. Arrive on time for orientation by shift supervisor. At the conclusion of orientation, sign a statement agreeing to follow the rules and procedures of the warming center. c. Responsible for implementation of Warming Center rules and monitoring d. Support the Warming Center shift supervisor e. Volunteers will avoid putting themselves in situations where they are alone with a guest in a secluded area f. Shift supervisor will never put themselves in a position where they are alone with a child. g. Interact with guests conversation, games, assistance with computers if needed h. Morning shift: i. Help with set-up of Warming center ii. iii. Make coffee, hot water for tea or hot chocolate Every hour, one volunteer checks restrooms, CA room and walks grounds as i. Mid-day shift: i. Set up, warm up and serve lunch. Then, clean the kitchen when lunch is finished ii. Make coffee as needed, hot water for tea or hot chocolate iii. Every hour, one volunteer checks restrooms, CA room and walks grounds as k. Late afternoon shift: i. Every hour, one volunteer checks restrooms, CA room and walks grounds as ii. Help with take down of Warming Center iii. Sweep the floors 3. Lunch Volunteer a. Responsible for dropping off lunch for guests and volunteers b. Lunch may be dropped off early in the day with directions for warming and serving or lunch may arrive at lunch time. In the latter case, the lunch volunteer is invited to join the guests and volunteers for lunch 4. Laundry Volunteer a. Responsible for washing dish towels and cot bedding for the week b. Picks up towels and bedding on Saturday when the center closes or on Sunday morning and returns the clean laundry to the church office on Tuesday 4

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