Homeless Health Initiative Safe Physical Activity & Recreation for Kids (SPARK) Volunteer


  • Families Forward, 111 N. 48th Street
  • People’s Emergency Center (PEC) Gloria’s Place, 3902 Spring Garden Street
  • St. Barnabas Mission, 6006 W Girard Avenue


The Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) is a volunteer health outreach program that provides free healthcare and health-related services to families living in local emergency housing shelters. Dedicated volunteers from HHI offer free, high-quality medical and dental care, health education, and other services to shelter residents in the Philadelphia area.

SPARK (Safe Physical Activity & Recreation for Kids) is a weekly fitness and nutrition program for children, empowering them to make healthy choices during their time in shelter and beyond. Volunteers receive ongoing supervision and support from program leadership to facilitate a structured trauma-informed curriculum that provides opportunities for fun play while learning healthy lifestyle choices.

In this role, HHI volunteers are expected to assist SPARK group leaders to facilitate programming activities by:

  • Maintaining a safe learning environment for kids to play
  • Supervising and monitoring children during activities
  • Contributing innovative ideas for programming
  • Demonstrating comfort working with kids ages 5 and up
  • Aiding as walking escorts for children out of the facility to a nearby park/gym (PEC/Families Forward)
  • Understanding trauma informed care practices (taught in HHI training)
  • Being prepared and excited about active play
  • Being flexible —sometimes we shift plans based on what the kids need that day
  • Demonstrating cooperation, teamwork and fair play

All volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of two shifts per month.

Volunteer requirements

Prior to your first volunteer shift, all volunteers need to:

  • Submit a copy of their report of criminal history from the PA State Police
  • Submit a copy of their child abuse clearance from the Department of Human Services
  • Submit a copy of immunization records
  • Complete a one-hour HHI orientation and training

Prospective volunteers can email Melissa Johnson at BERRIOSM@email.chop.edu for instructions on how to submit your clearances and immunization records and to schedule your training.

All volunteers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with their desired site in advance of applying. This ensures they are comfortable with the geographic location and distance, public transportation and/or parking availability, and accessibility of the location before selecting their desired choice.

Available shifts

Families Forward

Wednesdays, 6:45 p.m. – 8 p.m.

People’s Emergency Center (PEC) Gloria’s Place

Wednesdays, 5:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.

St. Barnabas Mission

Thursdays, 6:45 p.m. – 8 p.m.

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