Homeless Health Initiative: How You Can Help

Healthcare Professional and Child Image Our success in helping children and families experiencing homelessness depends on the generosity of individuals who contribute financial support, volunteer their time and contribute needed items. Please see below for information on ways you can help the Homeless Health Initiative the the families we serve.

Volunteer your time at a shelter

HHI volunteers provide a variety of services to children and families in the shelters we serve, including medical service and more. To learn details about who can volunteer and what medical, educational or other activities you can provide, visit the Wawa Volunteer Services page.

We ask interested healthcare providers to fill out three forms so we can begin the volunteer screening process.

The Volunteer Candidate Information Form (Word) asks for information about you, your contact information, your time availability, any special skills you can share and what you hope to get out of your volunteer experience.

Please download this form, fill it out and send it to hhi@email.chop.edu. We'll be in touch with you soon!

How volunteers can help

As a part of the HHI volunteer team, you will provide one or more of the following services to the children in shelters and their families:

  • Medical, nursing or dental care in the shelters
  • Educational workshops for mothers in shelters
  • Educational workshops for staff in shelters
  • Hearing or vision screenings
  • Interactive mother-child development focused activities
  • Literacy activities

You are expected to attend the visits that you have signed up for, unless you notify us that you cannot attend. Please be sure to sign in at every visit and fill out relevant forms to ensure that service is given efficiently to children.

Deliver donations

If time is short and you still want to make a difference with HHI, consider volunteering an hour of service time to help deliver donations to local shelters. E-mail our volunteer coordinator.

Organize a donations drive or fundraiser

For those who wish to raise awareness of HHI and help families, consider organizing a donations drive or fundraiser that would benefit families and/or staff at local homeless shelters.

While each shelter has its own "wish list" of items needed at any particular time, some common items include:

  • Canned and nonperishable food
  • Seasonal clothing for adults and children (everything from summer shorts, sandals and bathing suits to winter hats, scarves and gloves)
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Cleaning and paper products

Contact the shelters directly to find out what donations are being accepted and to make arrangements with them for delivery.

  • Episcopal Community Services/St. Barnabas Mission
  • People's Emergency Center
  • Lutheran Settlement House/Jane Addams Place
  • Salvation Army/Red Shield Family Residence
  • Red Cross House
  • Women Against Abuse
  • Bucks County Emergency Homeless Center
  • Families Forward Philadelphia (formerly Travelers Aid Family Services of Philadelphia)

Create an advocacy project

Another option for individuals who want to volunteer their time to HHI is to create an advocacy project to benefit families or staff at one or more local homeless shelter. Some examples of past advocacy projects include:

  • Nutrition — Volunteers on this project conducted a nutritional needs assessment of families living in shelters. Findings then help form a family intervention project to provide families with appropriate nutritional education to carry with them through their transition from the shelter to permanent housing.
  • Teen Group — Volunteers on this project conducted monthly workshops with teens at The People's Emergency Shelter. Topics were based on the needs of the group and included: healthy relationships, nutrition, self-expression and conflict resolution.
  • Father's Forum —  Volunteers on this project conducted focus groups with fathers living in shelters to learn what challenges they faced living in shelters, raising children and obtaining resources. The Father's Forum provided an opportunity for fathers living in shelters to tell their stories.

Volunteer at a suburban shelter

Volunteer with a suburban shelter. Please let us know if you are interested in offering an educational workshop in your field of expertise (i.e., new baby care) or hosting a drive for a shelter in Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery counties. Please e-mail  us.  

Next Steps