“In some ways, HSHS is also a four-year shelter for Harvard students, from any pocket of the campus culture. It is a space where you can escape personal pressures and perfectionism, and instead make some grilled cheeses for people who are deeply grateful to have somewhere warm to sleep for the night.”
Anonymous, Class of 2019
Despite the stresses of Harvard, despite the highs and lows, our institution reeks of privilege. As we hurry off to our day’s responsibilities, we pass members of our community who stand unsure of basics like health, safety, and shelter. At the end of the day, we find a meal, a bed, and peers to support and validate us. Life in Cambridge is a constant reminder that not everyone can afford the same comforts.
Since 1983, Harvard Square Homeless Shelter (HSHS) has operated from November to mid-April, providing food, shelter, and resource advocacy. Located near Lowell and Kirkland at 66 Winthrop Street, HSHS is the only student-run shelter in the country. This unique structure provides an avenue for students to interact with an issue they recognize daily, while maintaining a safe and respectful environment for volunteers and guests. Everyday during HSHS’s active season, student staff members and volunteers gather to prepare meals (breakfast and dinner) and help out with general chores that ensure the shelter keeps running. In this time, students have the chance to take a brief respite from the demands of college life, chat with guests, and contribute to the support of the homeless in our community. Resource Advocacy—a more involved role—permits students to work with guests personally to provide access to local housing, jobs, and health-related resources. Alternatively, Street Teamers address the needs of those outside of the shelter.
Volunteers may sign up for breakfast (6:30am-8:30am), dinner (7pm-9:15pm), evening (9pm-11:15pm), and overnight (11pm-8:30am) shifts. To sign up to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Take on a regular shift or ask to be placed on the substitute list if you’re looking for something with a little more flexibility. Make some grilled cheese sandwiches and coffee, and make a difference. It’s as simple as that.