Volunteer Corner

Volunteers are the lifeblood of IHN. They come from varied faiths and ages and provide hospitality for our congregational shelter network, organize fundraising drives, tutor in our Afterschool Program, introduce IHN to their community group or friends, and more.

Are you interested in lending your talents to become a volunteer?

Congregational Shelter Network Volunteers

To make the congregational shelter network run smoothly, each host congregation should identify individuals for the following volunteer jobs.


Coordinate volunteers, schedules, guest arrangements and sleeping set-ups, meals, transportation, laundry, and recognition opportunities to thank volunteers after the host week.

Set up/Break Down Volunteers

Teams set up the accommodations on Sunday afternoon and help take down and move the air mattresses the following Sunday.

Meal Preparation Volunteers

(Two or three volunteers before 6:30 p.m. each evening.) Dinner is a hot meal prepared at volunteers’ homes or in the congregation’s kitchen. It is served between 6–6:30 pm. This is a great opportunity for congregational groups such as Bible study, women’s circles, and men’s groups.

Dinner and Evening Hosts

(Minimum two volunteers, 5:30–8:30 p.m.) These volunteers may be part of the dinner preparation team or arrive to eat with guests. Dinner hosts socialize with guests, welcome newcomers, and assist parents with children’s needs. Dinner is informal. After dinner, volunteers may conduct activities, help with homework, or assist a guest with a particular need.

Overnight Hosts

(Two volunteers, 8:30–9 p.m. to 7 a.m.) Two hosts spend the night at the temporary shelter. Overnight hosts spend time with guests, help older children with homework and are available in case of emergency. They wake guests around 6 a.m. Some overnight hosts also assist with breakfast if there are no breakfast volunteers.

Other Network Volunteer Opportunities

  • Supplies: Volunteers either purchase (using funds from the congregational budget) or coordinate donations of food staples, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other needed items.
  • Laundry assistance: Each host week, one or two volunteers wash the guests’ and overnight volunteers’ towels and sheets.
  • Activities: Volunteers plan and organize special activities and events, such as arts and crafts projects, movie night parties, and outings for children and families.

See what a typical host week looks like.

More Volunteer Opportunities

Fundraising and Drives

Fundraising Volunteer

Opportunities exist throughout the year to initiate, plan, publicize and participate in fundraising and publicity events.

Drive Organizer

Organizes collections for pajamas; hats, gloves; school supplies

Gift Card Provider

Obtains cards for grocery and big box stores such as Pathmark, Target, ShopRite

Children’s Programs

After School Program Volunteers

Program offers children a safe place to be after school before their parents return from work. Volunteers provide tutoring and homework help as well as other activities such as reading and board games.

Homework Volunteers

Needed Monday through Thursday from 4–5:30 p.m. to help children with homework

Enrichment Activity Volunteers

Needed Friday from 4–5:30 p.m. to share a special talent or skill, or lead children in an activity

Adult Workshops

Workshop Leaders

Lead or organize individual workshops for resume writing;, interview techniques and hints; job search skills; computer skills; healthy cooking and wellness.

Office and General Support

Special Events Coordinator

Assists IHN with planning holiday celebrations for the families

Holiday Gifts and Food Basket Volunteers

Donate family “wish list” items for Christmas; provide food baskets for holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas

Volunteer Videographer

Make video shorts highlighting the work of IHN to be used for publicity and fundraising purposes.

Marketing/Public Relations Committee Member

Energetic volunteer to create material and resources to publicize the mission of IHN including website content and press releases. Ability to write press releases and connections to media a big plus.

Office Support Volunteers

Answer telephones, assist with mailings, and/or work with office staff on special projects.


These individuals, with or without a truck, are willing to help move and transport furniture for families moving into new homes.

Spread the Word!

  • As an Individual: Become an ambassador for IHN — help IHN spread the word about the organization by inviting eight to 10 people to one of our “Dreaming of Home” information sessions or host one in your home.
  • As a Member of a Religious, Civic or Corporate Organization:
    • Talk to your group about partnering with IHN as volunteers, financial supporters and community advocates.
    • Check for employer matching of financial donations or volunteer time
    • Connect us to your organization’s foundation

Volunteer Training

The Interfaith Hospitality Network values the many volunteers that participate in our congregational shelter program, After School Program and other IHN events.

To ensure that you and our guests have a safe and positive experience, please review the attached document prior to volunteering in the congregational shelter program or at other IHN activities and events.

Watch our “How Can I Help?” short video to learn more about volunteering in the IHN shelter program.

Download Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County’s Volunteer Guide.