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November marks the start of our 8th year of participation in the REST (Rotating Emergency Shelter Teams) program. With the oversight (i.e. transportation and overnight staffing) of St. Vincent de Paul of Marin, the program feeds and shelters an average of 40-45 homeless men and 20 women every night of the week, at separate sites. Still, the reality is that there are 300 homeless men and women without a safe shelter or decent food every night in Marin. The REST program — along with Mill Street Center and Homeward Bound at New Beginnings, Novato — can only temporarily/nightly serve a total of approximately 200. Clearly the need exists for a larger, more permanent solution, and there are movements afoot to address that political and fiscal challenge within the next 3 years.
Every year, an average of 10-12 people die homeless in Marin … and 75% of these homeless persons are natives of Marin. There are at least 1,200 people counted as living homeless in varying degrees in Marin, while 4,100 are considered “precariously housed” (according to a 2011 survey conducted by Marin County’s Health & Human Services).
The REST program developed out of a dire need for emergency shelter housing in the county, and has been renewed annually, as the need continues to grow. Currently, there are 16 congregations participating in REST as on-site hosts, and 40 others providing support through other measures (including the separate women’s site) … for a total of 56 communities of faith (and hope!).
Thanks to financial commitments from each and every participating congregations’ respective Town Council, the program has been expanded this year to encompass the winter season more fully; and so, the REST program will run from November 1 to April 30th, 2016.
All residents and/or organizations of the community are welcome to volunteer to help with REST at our church site (or can request referrals to other participating congregations). Help is needed at various levels, from cooking to set-up/clean-up. The time commitment is small … a typical shift is from 5:00 or 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm. And, this opportunity can fulfill Community Service requirements for youth, as well as fulfilling a desire to reach out as a (any) group to do something meaningful and palpable locally. Philanthropic organizations, book clubs, 4-H groups, non-profits, and Town Council members are just a few examples of participating community persons (i.e. non-church members) who have and are volunteering.
To volunteer for the Winter Shelter on Friday nights with us, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-758-7155