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Helene & BJ's Place - Community's Shelter for Men

 

Helene & BJ's Place - Community's Shelter for Men

In 1983 the Community Church of New York, under the aegis of the Partnership for the Homeless, established an overnight homeless shelter. The need was great and we saw the outreach project as a common endeavor, a church-wide commitment, rooted in our Unitarian Universalist ideals of justice and compassion, and an activity to which each member as well as non-members could contribute.

Unfortunately, today the need for our shelter is greater than ever. The aging homeless population, though less visible, is growing.

Our ability to stay open every night of the year depends on building a base of committed volunteers. The shelter is not a committee program; it is Community’s outreach program which unites us and gives us the opportunity to put our beliefs and spirituality into action.

We cannot solve the problem of homelessness, but we can offer hospitality and a good night’s rest to ten of our homeless brothers, thus assuring them that someone does care. Work in the shelter involves a small sacrifice but is an immensely enriching experience, an opportunity to “grow our souls.”

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BJ’s and Helene's Place Needs Your Help - Flyer

Shelter Volunteers are always needed – They work in teams and training is provided.  Please contact George Garland gagarland@gmail.com  or Fred Corden fcorden@me.com for details.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BJ’S PLACE:

Who runs the shelter at Community Church?

The shelter is run by members and friends of Community under the auspices of the Partnership for the Homeless which offers medical and psychiatric care and social work case management.

Who are our shelter guests?

BJ’s Place receives 10 men. They are brought to the shelter by bus after careful screening for cleanliness, sobriety, health and behavioral issues. There has never been a serious problem with a guest.

Do I have to stay overnight or be a church member?

Everyone is welcome! Our greatest need is for overnighters, but sometimes we need help with food purchasing, phoning and e-mailing reminders to volunteers, fundraising and recruiting new volunteers.

What are my responsibilities as an overnight volunteer?

Volunteers pick-up the shelter keys at 10 Park Avenue and arrive at the shelter by 7:30 PM. They set out a light snack and greet our guests who arrive around 8:15. Many of our guests go to bed immediately in the “dormitory” – the rest relax in the hospitality room, watching TV and visiting with the volunteers. Volunteers stay overnight in a locked bedroom and have access to a private bathroom and shower. The guests are awakened at 5:30 AM and enjoy a light breakfast set out by the volunteers before the bus picks them up around 6:30. After tidying up, volunteers leave by 7:00 AM.

Will I be staying overnight by myself?

Two volunteers (male or female) work together each night, at least one of whom is experienced. Some highly experienced volunteers prefer to stay alone which is permitted.

Where can I get additional information?

Fred Corden - fcorden@me.com - 212-832-3941
George Garland - gagarland@gmail.com - 914-923-5120

VOLUNTEER COMMENTS:

“I really feel like I’m making a difference in a small, but satisfying way.”

“This is part of how I try to give back to New York City for the luck I’ve had in my life.”

“The shelter was very well organized and it was clear what my role was.”

“Our guests express their gratitude for a peaceful, quiet place to sleep.”


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Photo Tour: Building and Entrance, Dormitory, TV/Dining Room, Kitchen, Volunteers' Bedroom, Hallway & Back Porch, and a Shelter Committee's Appreciation Dinner shown below that. Click on the thumbnails to see larger view.

Building and Entrance

BJ-01a  BJ-02a  BJ-10a
Community Church and its brownstones, from the left and from the right. BJ's Place entrance sign.
 

BJ-11a  BJ-12a  13a  14a
BJ's Place entrance is under the stairs of 26 E. 35th Street. The guys arrive and leave by school bus.

Dormitory

BJ-21a  BJ-22a
Before the guys arrive on the weekly floor-cleaning day. The linen closet can be seen behind the bins for the dirty linens in the first shot. The main entrance is visible in the second shot.

  BJ-24a;BJ-23a  BJ-25a
The guys make their beds as soon as they arrive. Some go right to sleep.

TV & Dining Room
BJ-31a  BJ-32a  BJ-33a
The first shot of the TV & Dining Room starts from the TV couch, shows the kitchen in the left background and the entrance to the Volunteers' private bathroom (with shower) on the right. The second shot shows the TV area on the far side of the dining room table. The third shot shows the room in use during the evening snack.

Kitchen
BJ-41a  BJ-42a  BJ-43a
From entrance, from over the stove, from the sink.
It is small but functional.

Volunteers' Bedroom

BJ-51a  BJ-52a
There are 2 double beds in the Volunteers' bedroom. The second shot is from the doorway.

Hallway and Back Porch and Floorplan
BJ-61a  BJ-62a  BJ-71a  shelter-floor2a
The first hallway shot is from the Volunteers' bedroom door (on the left and the dormitory door on the right) to the TV/Dining Room. The 2nd shot shows the stairs up to the Men's lavatory in Community Church's meeting spaces. On that level is also the door to the back porch where the Guests are allowed to smoke. This is shown in the 3rd shot. A floor plan opens up from the diagram.

 

 

Last Published: June 9, 2016 12:32 PM