Run entirely by students and volunteers, HSHS has a very large group of dedicated volunteers who contribute a wide variety of skills and time to the shelter. We normally have 14 directors, 14 supervisors, and around 150 volunteers.
⇒ Sign up to volunteer at HSHS for break shifts! When many of our regular student volunteers leave campus over break, we need your help keeping the shelter open. Click here to sign up.
⇒ If you’re a current volunteer, click here for more information.
⇒ Looking to learn more or get involved in other ways? Contact us at [email protected].
The Harvard Square Homeless Shelter’s regular weekly shifts are commitments that run for approximately half of its season, the first part of which goes from November 1st to February 15th (but does not include the college’s Thanksgiving and Winter breaks). The second part runs from February 15th to April 15th (but doesn’t include the college’s Spring break in March). The application for these shifts becomes available here in the weeks prior to their start. Descriptions of the shifts are below! Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.
If you’re interested in volunteering with the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter but aren’t able to commit to a regular weekly shift, we would love to have you work in our shelter as a substitute volunteer! HSHS relies on substitute volunteers to fill in intermittently for shifts weekly volunteers aren’t able to attend. A weekly email is sent out on sunday afternoons with available shifts to members of our substitute volunteer emailing list- if an available shift works for you, you can email back to help out! To join our substitute volunteer emailing list click here! If you have any more questions about this process, please email [email protected].
The Harvard Square Homeless Shelter also relies on volunteers over Harvard College’s breaks, when a large portion of our regular volunteer base isn’t on campus to continue their regular shifts. These shifts are one-time commitments, and can be a great way to experience different shifts in the shelter. It’s also great for the shelter environment to have enthusiastic, caring volunteers in our space over the Holidays. We welcome both individuals and groups to sign up for break shifts, which occur over Thanksgiving week, Winter break from the end of December into January, and Spring break week in March. To receive the sign-up and other information for break shifts, please join our break shift emailing list here. Please email [email protected] if you have any concerns or questions about this process!
The Harvard Square Homeless Shelter welcomes groups to volunteer with us! If your team, company, or organization of any sort wants to volunteer at HSHS there are two options available: regular, weekly shifts and break shifts. Regular weekly shifts are commitments that run for approximately half of our season, the first part of which goes from November 1st to February 15th (but does not include the college’s Thanksgiving and Winter breaks). The second part runs from February 15th to April 15th (but doesn’t include the college’s Spring break in March). In the weeks prior to our opening on November 1st, the application for our group shifts will become available. You can email [email protected] to request this application.
If your group isn’t able to commit to weekly shifts, we would love to have your group sign up for one-time commitment break shifts (over Thanksgiving week, the college’s Winter break or the college’s Spring break week in March). To receive the sign up for these break shifts, please join our break shift emailing list here. If you have any questions about group shifts, please email [email protected].
Dinner (6:45 PM – 9:15 PM)
You’ll be making and serving dinner, and perhaps be lucky enough to run on a food salvage trip or to collect pastries from the many shops that donate to us.
Evening (9:00 PM – 11:15 PM)
This is a relaxed time to visit with guests as they prepare for bed. It’s usually very quiet and a great opportunity for some wonderful conversations. Help is also often needed in the kitchen to clean-up after dinner and prepare plates of food to hand out at the door.
Overnight (11:00 PM – 9:00 AM)
You’ll stay awake with other volunteers and night-owl guests, basically having more good conversations, watching movies, doing laundry, reading, baking cookies, etc! This is a fantastic shift because it’s a rare opportunity to have long conversations and get to know people well. People often say it’s the best shift! And never fear, we do take turns sleeping — the night is typically divided into three shifts (12-3 AM, 3-5 AM, 5-8 AM) and you will be awake for one of them (there is a staff room with bunk beds, so you will be able to sleep when it is not your turn to be awake). Note: Friday shift runs from 11:00 PM to 10:00 AM
Breakfast (6:30 AM – 9:00 AM)
Come in bright and early to greet our guests as they begin to wake up! You’ll be making breakfast and helping to clean the shelter (an invaluable service!) after all the guests leave at 8 AM. Note: Saturday shift runs from 7:30 AM – 10:00 AM.