So yes, clean sheets are a vital part of what we do. So is filling out housing paperwork, visiting encampments, listening to stories, delivering medication, moving folks into housing, and maybe, just maybe, being still for a moment. Every day here at Open Table Nashville is a new adventure. You never know . . . you might even be inspired by a group of teenagers at a Laundromat.
By Liz Shadbolt, Volunteer Coordinator
The last week of April 2017 is National Volunteer Week in the US. At Open Table Nashville, every week is volunteer week! We couldn’t function without the amazing volunteers who support our work.
As the Volunteer Coordinator at OTN, I am convinced that I have the best job ever. Every day, I get to talk to people who have one question: how can I help? This simple questions leads us into conversation that is always inspiring. From people with special skills (cooks! hairstylists!) who can use those skills to support our initiatives to people with great skills who are willing to do whatever is needed – we can find a place of service for just about anyone.
At our Resource Shelters, we host folks who are working toward housing for the night. This is a night of respite with the usual shelter things – meals, showers, and clean beds. But we also use this time to work on the housing process. During the evening, our outreach workers sit with folks to complete applications, to check in and to offer support. Meanwhile, volunteers offer haircuts, foot clinic, and conversation. I once had a volunteer who had served as a “floater” tell me that he didn’t feel like he had helped because he had just sat around chatting with folks and hearing about their lives. I assured him that this was exactly what we hoped he would do – offer dignifying conversation and a listening ear to folks who don’t often feel heard.
This week, we will celebrate the many aspects in which volunteers are creating community with OTN. We are so grateful for the talent and enthusiasm you bring to our work and into our lives!