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TSE Shelter Program

Various houses of worship pledge to open their facilities throughout the winter to homeless men in the community who need shelter, food, and transportation.

Community Contact Information:
Temple Shaari Emeth
Manalapan, NJ
http://www.shariemeth.org

Goals:

  • To open the synagogue building as a shelter for homeless male citizens with a congregational network of staffing volunteers
  • To provide the guests of the shelter with hats, socks, gloves, and toiletries
  • To provide guests with an extra package of the above materials to distribute to other homeless men unwilling or unable to stay in the shelter.

Preparation:
A Temple Shaari Emeth congregant noticed that homeless men were an underserved population in the community, so he approached the local interfaith clergy association about organizing a program to offer overnight shelter and food for homeless men from December-March. The clergy association discussed the idea, and an action plan was eventually brought to the Temple Shaari Emeth board and approved.

In order for the Temple Shaari Emeth (TSE) Shelter Program to work seamlessly, the program's co-chairs prepare sign-in sheets for the guests, send out emails reminding volunteers of their commitments and coordinate each volunteer's participation in advance of the start date. Volunteer coordination includes; screening volunteers, driving volunteers, organizing meal donations, recruiting overnight staffing volunteers and collecting toiletry and clothing donations. One of the co-chairs is present each Saturday to make sure that all the preparation (rearranging furniture, heating meals, preparing the mattresses, and preparing the parcels of toiletries and clothes) has been done.

Project Implementation:
Adult males in need who don't consume alcohol or display good behavior arrive at a screening center to be checked for inappropriate materials. Upon acceptance for the night, the men are driven to the synagogue, where they are given the opportunity to clean up, eat, socialize and sleep. In the morning, they are driven back to the screening center and given the packages with toiletries and clothes.

Results:
The Shelter Program fills an ongoing need in the community by providing the homeless with a place to feel comfortable. It also enriches the lives of the congregants who help and support the program, and it helps bring together members of the interfaith community.