March 26, 2010

Volunteers needed to fill many roles at new Holy Family Shelter

By John Shaughnessy

On one night, it can be the simple pleasure of watching a movie and digging into a bag of popcorn.

On another night, it can be the fun of making a few outlandish moves during an exercise class or working with glue and sparkles while creating an arts-and-crafts project.

In all the situations, it’s mainly the opportunity to just be a child in that moment, free from the stress and hardship of being part of a family whose life has been turned upside down by homelessness.

“We get a lot of volunteers that host children’s activities here,” says Emily Able, the director of community and youth services at the archdiocese’s Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis. “For those two hours, it allows the kids to be kids. It relieves the stress they’re going through, and it gives the parents a break, too.” (Related story: Youth director embraces shelter’s goal of changing heartbreak to hope for homeless children and parents)

The combination of special activities and willing volunteers is constantly needed and appreciated at Holy Family Shelter, especially since the new, expanded facility opened in

mid-December on the near west side of Indianapolis.

“We need more groups to come in and host children’s activities,” Able says. “They can be as creative as they want—dance nights, movie nights, anything they want to teach or share.”

Volunteers are also needed for child care so parents can search for housing, apply for a job or take a class at the shelter that helps them find employment or improve their parenting skills.

“We also have a need for groups to come in and do special projects that involve cleaning and painting,” Able says. “And we need volunteers that can help at the front desk or in organizing and sorting items in our donation room.”

The shelter is also in need of donations that range from school uniforms to food items for the three meals that are served each day at the facility. Cereals, fresh fruit and powdered drinks are staples that always need to be replenished.

“Holy Family Shelter is blessed to have this new building,” Able says. “Because of the space we have now, there’s so much more we can do for our families and so many ways we can impact their lives. We need whatever help people can give to make a difference to these families.”

(To learn more about Holy Family Shelter and its volunteer opportunities, call Emily Able at 317-635-7830, ext. 19, send an e-mail to or log on to

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