Room at the Inn hosts social events
By TRINITY CAREY
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — Room at the Inn, an emergency homeless shelter, will host a volunteer social the first Sunday of every month.
Due to the holiday weekend, the volunteer social for September will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8.
The social is an opportunity for any who may be interested in volunteering to gather general information, voice their concerns and have any questions answered, said Room at the Inn Executive Director Nick Emmendorfer.
“We want to make sure that volunteers at Room at the Inn get to know each other and have an opportunity to talk about their experiences with each other, helping out the homeless population,” Emmendorfer said.
The social will run about one hour with the last 45 minutes or so being a chance for volunteers to talk with the RATI executive director, the Warming Center manager and the guest advocate. A meal will be provided.
There are two ways to get involved at RATI: Volunteers may prepare and serve meals and socialize with guests at the Warming Center, or help out at the overnight shelter, which rotates among local churches.
Shifts at the Warming Center are from 6 to 9 a.m., from 9 a.m. to noon, and starting this fall, a dinner shift from 5 to 8 p.m.
Those interested in volunteering at the shelter can visit signupgenius.com and search email@example.com.
Emmendorfer noted there are a few qualities that are good for volunteers to possess.
“No. 1, enthusiasm. It’s important to have enthusiasm, and two, awareness of what we’re dealing with,” Emmendorfer said. “We’re dealing with a population that are members of our community and just because they don’t have a legal residence doesn’t mean they’re any less subject to needing our help, our human services. Third, the biggest quality, is come into all volunteering shifts with an open mind. You’ll meet many different people from many different walks of life. Really, it turns out to be an education experience for a lot of people.”
People can also get involved with RATI by giving in-kind donations, which include items such as coffee, toilet paper, fruits, vegetables and pastries, and also by giving financial donations, which will go toward funding the matching grant received by RATI from the Davenport Foundation.
The grant will pay for an overnight staff member at the rotating shelter locations, a new addition to the inn’s operations.
“In an attempt to make our shelter operations more accountable, we are hiring an overnight supervisor at our shelter to help do intake to help make sure RATI owns the responsibility of who comes in and out of the shelter and to ensure that there is always someone there for supervision in addition to the volunteers that will be there,” Emmendorfer said.
Besides an overnight staff member, RATI is also changing its overall operation model to make the shelter season less strenuous on the churches and partnering with the Salvation Army, he said. RATI guests will be served breakfast and dinner at the Warming Center and encouraged to head to the Salvation Army for lunch, where they will also be given clothing vouchers to the thrift store.
Emmendorfer encouraged anyone looking for an educational and fulfilling volunteer opportunity to consider volunteering with RATI because it “not only helps people who are truly in need, but is also a very rewarding experience for the individual to become educated on our homeless population and exactly who these individuals are,” Emmendorfer said.
He noted Seattle is dealing with 11,000 homeless people in its community.
“Marquette is looking at 30 to 40 chronically homeless individuals,” Emmendorfer said. “When you look at it in that perspective, we really do have a man on the situation in front of us, and by getting out the volunteer effort, raising funds and getting donations, we can tackle that issue ahead of time and manage the situation before it gets worse, and not only help these individuals, but reduce the homeless population and some of the issues it causes for the local community.”
RATI will relaunch its website in September. For more information on RATI and the Warming Center, visit Room at the Inn on Facebook.
Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.