Volunteers have been at the heart of Abby’s House since the beginning. They come from all walks of life, volunteer on their own or as part of a group, and choose to volunteer for different reasons. Their length of stay varies as well. Some volunteer for one day, others work on a regular basis, and some stay with us for years.
Our volunteers vary in age (18-90+!) as well. Some are retirees and some are in the workforce, while others are in college. Individual volunteers provide overnight coverage at our shelter, work in the Thrift Shop, teach classes and hold workshops in our Women’s Center, serve as receptionists, and help prepare and serve meals. Corporate and community groups come to Abby’s House to prepare and serve meals and help with larger projects.
Individual Volunteer Opportunities
If you are under age 18, you can still make a difference for the women and children at Abby’s House. Here is a list of ideas of how you can help:
- Organize a donation drive. To view our list of in-kind needs, click here.
- Organize a fundraiser to benefit the women and children of Abby’s House
To ensure our volunteer positions are adequately staffed long-term, we do require individuals to make a 6 month volunteer commitment to Abby’s House.
If you are unable to make this commitment, consider participating in or volunteering to help with our annual fundraisers instead. Please visit our Event page to learn more.
The Abby’s House shelter has been providing a safe place for women, with and without children, who find themselves homeless for over 40 years. Our guests spend their day keeping appointments, looking for employment, filling out housing applications and working on other items they have identified on their empowerment plans. Upon returning to shelter, you would be responsible for providing our guests with a welcoming, cheerful atmosphere to return.
Welcoming guests with a smile is a good start. Our guests may want to relax with TV or some light reading. Most appreciate an active listener. This is your most important task. You do not need to have “the answer” – that is within each woman. You do need to respect the woman’s ability to do for herself and to stand beside her as she works through her plan. Maintaining the agreements of the shelter is the way to keep an environment in which everyone feels safe. Being homeless often means being in a state of disorder and chaos, so to have clear expectations helps to bring some stability to our guests’ lives.
Women who come to Abby’s are homeless for an array of reasons: economic struggle, substance use, in recovery, emotional, physical, and mental health issues, interpersonal violence, inadequate housing, etc. There may be other reasons, but these are some we have seen.
What does volunteering at Abby’s House shelter look like?
- 15-hour commitment from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. (You may sleep while guests are sleeping)
- Keep an accurate, complete log of occurrences through the evening (shift)
- Ensure women have access to their medications and cleaning/laundry supplies
- Follow all COVID-19 health and safety protocols and tasks to ensure safety of shelter guests, staff, and volunteers
- Offer active listening while upholding professional boundaries and maintaining confidentiality (Maintain confidentiality standards of Abby’s House)
- Exemplify compassion, empathy, and respect to guests
Commitment involves staffing one night a month or more. Training is provided by Abby’s House shelter staff. Staff is available via on-call phone for additional support.
The Abby’s House Thrift Shop has three goals:
1. Provide a clean, welcoming store that is stocked with quality, affordable clothing, necessities and household goods for the community and to women who qualify for assistance through our voucher program. To learn more about obtaining a Thrift Shop voucher, please visit our advocacy page.
2. Continue to raise funds for our mission of providing safe shelter, affordable housing and advocacy services homeless, battered, and low-income women, with or without children, through the sale of items in our Thrift Store.
3. Always treat our customers with dignity and respect and assist them in every way we can.
Volunteers assist with accepting and sorting donations, stocking the shop floor, helping customers find the perfect outfit and working at the cash registers. Hours are very flexible. Some volunteers work a couple of hours a week, others a couple of days a week. Our hours are Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Friday’s 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Saturday’s 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Due to the current health crisis all in-person activities in the Annette Rafferty Women’s Empowerment Center have been temporarily suspended.
Our Women’s Center is open to current and former guests and residents, serving as a space where women go to find continued support, camaraderie, and services. Individuals with specialized skills and/or training are always needed to teach workshops or provide services.
Examples of activities include:
- Art and Music Therapy
- Sewing/knitting and jewelry classes
- Dental Hygiene
- Pet Therapy
- Computer Classes
- Resume Development
- Interview Preparation
- Financial Literacy Training
- SNAP Benefits Counseling
The Women Center is open daily from 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM, Monday – Friday and all programming takes place during these hours.
Group Volunteer Opportunities
We welcome organizations and groups to volunteer with us, whether it is for a day of service or on a regular basis, and are able to handle groups of 8 or less.
Due to the current health crisis, this opportunity has been temporarily suspended.
Groups can also prepare and serve meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
At times, we have special projects that we need help with, especially in our Maintenance department. If we review your application and determine you or your group would be a good fit to volunteer, we will contact you to discuss what project we currently need help with.
Interested in becoming a volunteer?
- Start by filling out our online volunteer application.
Only complete applications will be considered.
- If our Volunteer Coordinator determines that your interests, skills, and availability meet our present or near term needs, you will be contacted within a week of submitting your application.
Given the mission of Abby’s House and the sensitive nature of our work, volunteer selections and roles are carefully assigned.
A criminal background check (CORI) is required of all adult volunteers. References for students and interns may be required.