"I spent most of the day as a guide with one client. His name was Andrew. He was really flighty, and didn’t want to sit to fill in the forms for his eye exam or flu shot. He kept asking why I was there. I told him multiple times that I was there to show him love, to be his friend, because I care. He said everyone was so nice, and asked if I was doing community service or something. When I told him my answer, I don’t think he knew how to handle it, it didn’t seem to register. He called me his angel. He didn’t want to stand in line for lunch, and wasn’t going to stay. I told him we’d pick a table to sit at where we could see the movie that was on, then I’d stand in line for us and bring him his lunch. He said I’d make him cry... After he sat, I got the food and we had lunch together. After lunch, he went to watch the movie, and I went back to work. I believe that he felt the love I was giving.
Sometimes I feel like we don’t really see the difference that we are making, we don’t really even know if we are making a difference in some of those individual’s lives. But every once in a while, we get a glimpse, we get to see the impact that we are having. I think this was one of those cases. It’s a powerful reminder of just how important an impact we can have on those who don’t get a lot of love from society."
- Jamie F., Returning Volunteer
Homeless Connect relies on more than 350 volunteers to ensure the event is a success. Volunteers perform critical roles such as:
- Registration/Exit Survey: Conducting intake and exit surveys, helping guests navigate the registration lines, running supplies when needed. The intake surveys are done electronically on tablets. Only volunteers who are comfortable working with a technology should apply for this position.
- Greeters: Homeless Connect is about respect and inclusion. Greeters set the tone, shaking hands with guests as they arrive, ensuring they feel welcome, and directing them to registration. Greeters may also be asked to guard doorways/exits, help people to find restrooms, escort guests to registration, hand out water in line ups and provide general information about the event.
- Guides: Once a guest has registered, a guide meets them and directs them to the services they need. A guide is a guest’s host, ensuring they receive the services and information they need. Guides walk with guests through the event and help them to find the services they are seeking. Guests may want a guide to stay with them for their entire stay at the event, or may not want a guide to help them at all.
- Special Ops: Our special ops volunteers cover a variety of services offered at Homeless Connect. These services include:
- Child Care Registration - registering families, taking pictures of the child and logging them into the system.
- Hair - sweeping hair, helping with line control, etc.
- Clothing - organizing and sorting clothing, helping guests find what they need, etc.
- Serving Coffee
- Meal Service - helping families and people with mobility issues get meals, ticking off wrist bands, line control, clearing plates, etc.
- Photography Registration
- Bag Check - taking in items and handing out tickets to guests.
- Floaters: All of the above! Our floater volunteers assist each area and give much needed breaks to those volunteering for the entire day. As a floater volunteer, you can be asked to perform a number of tasks throughout the event. It is also important to consider that floaters do experience down time and are not busy every second of the event.
All volunteers work closely with our guests. This event is very hands on and volunteers are asked to do a lot of lifting, standing and moving. At this time, there are VERY limited positions available for those with mobility issues (ie: seated positions). Please make sure to specify if you have any issues with standing, heavy lifting or walking on your application form.
Drop offs and last minute cancellations create a major strain on resources at the event. Please be sure you are available for your shift on the day of the event.
Placements are given on a first come, first served basis to make sure it is fair for everyone involved. On your application, please be clear about where you would like to be placed
New volunteers are asked to attend a mandatory training session prior to the event. This session is approximately one hour in length and goes through the important aspects of the event, as well as gives the volunteers an opportunity to meet their Team Leads and ask questions. All volunteers are asked to attend a pre-shift orientation session with their team leads and will also take a tour of the facility before the shift begins.
Starting in 2018, all volunteers shifts available will be full day shifts (8:30am-3:30pm) due to onsite need. There will no longer be morning shifts available. Depending on the amount of activity at the event, volunteers may be sent home early by their team leads.
Unfortunately, we are unable to accept groups of volunteers for this event. Should you have a group of people that are interested in volunteering, please sign up as individuals and state on the volunteer application what group you are with. The volunteer coordinator will try to keep groups together, but there is no guarantee that groups will be placed together.
Homeless Connect encourages youth to volunteer at the event. Youth 12-16 years of age must be accompanied 1:1 by a parent or guardian. All youth under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign their waiver. Unfortunately due to liability reasons, we cannot have anyone under the age of 12 volunteer at the event.
Set Up/Tear Down
Homeless Connect takes a lot of man power to get the event set up and taken down in a timely manner. Volunteers are encouraged to help with set up starting at 8am. Please note: We DO NOT have access the to space before 8am, so please do not show up earlier than that. Groups are also asked to help with tear down at the event. This helps everyone get off site by 3:30pm.
Register to Volunteer
Volunteers who have registered will receive a personal confirmation email from the volunteer coordinator once their application has been processed. Please make sure to click the "submit" button at the end of the application to ensure your application goes through. Please allow time for your application to be processed. If you are concerned that your application did not go through, please contact jtremblay[at]homewardtrust[dot]ca.
Check back in early 2018 for more info on how to register.