Once a month, I sleep with eleven other women on the mezzanine of the gym at St. John’s school. Ten of the women are without permanent housing, and two of us are volunteers. Everyone sleeps on mattresses on the floors; the ladies bring blankets from a day shelter downtown; I bring a sleeping bag from home. Volunteers from the Phinney neighborhood prepare bagged breakfast and lunches, and supply snacks for everyone to munch before bed.
This is not difficult work; in fact, it is the easiest volunteer work I’ve ever done. I can sleep anywhere, but these women don’t have many choices, especially as the days get warmer and the city shelters start to reduce the number of available beds they keep open.
The last three times I’ve worked, the other volunteer has been Lisette, the volunteer coordinator. When there aren’t enough volunteers to fill the schedule, she steps up and takes the extra nights. Last night, she told me it is easier for her to sleep at the shelter, than to call around to find a volunteer to fill that spot.
If you are interested in joining our volunteer corps, please leave a comment and I will pass your name on to Lisette. This isn’t hard work, but it is satisfying.