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What Is It Like To Volunteer At Lifebridge?

September 25, 2019

Wherever you live, homelessness is difficult to turn a blind eye to. With roughly 552,830 homeless people in the United States, and an estimated 20,000 living on the streets of Massachusetts, finding ways to lower the homeless population is a big deal.

For some, it’s easy to look the other way, but many find themselves searching for ways they can help; I find myself in the latter category.

How Can You Help People who are Experiencing Homelessness In Your Community?

People experiencing homelessness

Volunteer opportunities come in many shapes and forms, from hosting a group workshop to serving in the Lifebridge Thrift Shop. My work with Lifebridge North Shore began at Seeds of Hope, working in their kitchen once a month with my local church. 

A home-cooked meal is prepared each weekend using ingredients donated by local businesses and served to the residents, who have the choice to dine in or take away. There’s even a vegetarian option!

Is Job Training Required When You Volunteer at Homeless Shelters?

Our kitchen crew has people of all culinary skillsets, and in this instance, prior training is not a necessity. Even if you’re just chopping tomatoes or walking around with the dessert tray, you’re still doing something to help.

There will typically be a group leader who can guide you in what you are doing that day – in my case, it’s someone from church who’s just very confident in the kitchen. Ultimately, you can choose to work anywhere you feel comfortable, so if cooking isn’t your thing, perhaps you could organize a collection drive?

What is the Best Part About Volunteering at Lifebridge?

I’ve found the time I’ve spent visiting Lifebridge to be extremely eye-opening. You will be surprised, firstly, by the number of homeless people on your doorstep and, secondly, by the range of people seeking help to get off the streets.

There isn’t a “one mold fits all;” these are people who have lost their jobs, been kicked out of the house and, yes, those who battle with addiction.

Our time in the kitchen is always lots of fun; we pray over the meal and for the people we’re serving, play music while we cook, and love seeing the end result when the meal is served up. Whether you’re more comfortable staying out back in the kitchen or venturing out to mingle with the homeless individuals, there is a place for everyone. 

When I first started volunteering, I would typically stay in the kitchen, but now I love to step out and share a smile. 

Community meal programs at Lifebridge Salem MA

Why Would I Recommend Volunteering at Lifebridge?

The work that Lifebridge does is unbelievable; they’re giving these people a shot when no one else will.

It feels good to do something proactive to help homelessness in America, rather than just wishing or praying that they get the help they need one day. Imagine the impact if everyone were to devote just one morning or afternoon a month?

What to Expect When You Begin Volunteering

Firstly, your expectations will be exceeded in the best way. Volunteering at Lifebridge quickly becomes a time you look forward to, not just something you do for your conscience. 

Mostly, the individuals will simply want to take their food (if you end up working in the kitchen like me) and get back to talking with their friends. There might be some people who look for conversation, but I’ve found this quite rare, so you don’t have to be concerned if this isn’t something you’re ready for.

Volunteering in Salem MA

Chloe Bernard, volunteer at Seeds of Hope with Remix Church.

Learn all about Lifebridge’s voluntary opportunities at Seeds of Hope in Salem, Grace Center in Gloucester, River House in Beverly and the Lifebridge Thrift Shop.

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