How Your Time Impacts Our Mission
DESK is powered by a corps of dedicated volunteers who prepare food, set up the dining room, serve meals, clean up, operate our weekly pantry, stock our shelves, transport donations, and assist with a variety of administrative tasks and fundraising efforts. With a limited staff, we cannot do it without our amazing volunteers … and that’s how we like it! When more people meet and interact with those in need, we are building community. When volunteers shake the hands of our guests and give them a smile and sympathetic ear at dinner, we are forming connections. The path to recovery, health, and equity is paved with understanding.
Want to help us ensure that over 1,200 people in Greater New Haven have a nutritious meal on Thanksgiving Day? Read about how YOU can volunteer with DESK in the week leading up to the holiday as part of our Thanksgiving for All program! First time volunteer? Keep reading below. Ready to sign up to volunteer on Thanksgiving? Click here!
Update: Our Volunteer Schedule for Thanksgiving is just about full! Thank you to everyone who will be joining us that week. For those who would like to volunteer, but didn’t get a spot, remember: Hunger is a 52 weeks per year! Please keep reading below to learn how you can sign up to volunteer after Thanksgiving!
Are you ready to volunteer? Here’s what to do:
- Scroll down and take a quick look at our guidelines on this page below, especially those regarding age restrictions and community service hours.
- DESK needs volunteers Sunday through Thursday for several shifts throughout the afternoon and evening. Go to our SignUp.com page, where you can browse around and find a date and time that works for you. You can even sign up multiple volunteers at once! If you’d like to sign up a group of more than six, please contact us first. If you’re having trouble with the SignUp.com page, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email, or by calling us at (203) 624-6426.
- Can’t find a date/time that works for your schedule? Consider getting involved in some other way, like organizing a Food or Toiletry Drive! Or check one of our Volunteer Partners for additional opportunities.
- Once you’re signed up, please fill out the online Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability form. It’s quick and easy, and it will save you a few minutes when you first arrive at DESK.
- A few days before your scheduled shift, you’ll receive an email reminder.
- On the day you’re scheduled, come to 311 Temple Street in New Haven. We’re located in the basement of the Center Church Parish House. Enter through the basement stairs on the north-side of the building (to the left when you’re facing the building). Ring the bell, and you’ll be greeted by other volunteers or one of our staff.
Community Service & Court-Appointed Hours
If you need documentation as part of a credit-based community service program or court-appointed hours, please be sure to notify us about this via email at [email protected] after you have completed your hours. We will make every effort to provide electronic verification letters within three business days, or hard-copies within seven business days. Requests for documentation must be made within six months of the last volunteer shift.
A Few Guidelines and Rules
DESK is committed to the health and safety of both our guests and our volunteers. To that end, we ask that all volunteers follow the guidelines laid out below.
- Age: All volunteers must be at least 12 years-of-age, and those who are under 16 years-of-age must be accompanied by an adult.
- Attire: Dress appropriately to (1) serve the public and (2) work in a kitchen. Short-sleeves, shorts, and skirts are fine, but expect to get a little messy. Make sure your clothes are comfortable and the sorts of clothes you can move in easily. And everyone must wear closed-toe shoes. Volunteers who are not dressed appropriately may be asked to leave.
- Head-covering: Those who are working with food, either in preparation or serving, must wear a head-covering of some type. (Close-fitting hats that contain hair are acceptable.) We can provide head-coverings, if needed.
- Current Clients: Volunteers working in the kitchen or stock room cannot be current Food Pantry clients. Former clients must wait 30 days from last date-of-service to volunteer in either the kitchen or stock room.
- Court-appointed: We cannot accommodate court-appointed volunteers whose service is related to any kind of theft infraction.
If you have any physical or other types of restrictions that would impair your work here at DESK, please let us know ahead of time so we can do our best to accommodate you. For more information, contact [email protected] or call (203) 624-6426.
Volunteer Bill of Rights
DESK maintains the following rights for all our volunteers:
- The right to work in a safe environment.
- The right to be treated with respect by all staff members.
- The right to be engaged in meaningful work and be actively included regardless of any physical limitation.
- The right to be told what impact your work has on the community.
- The right to ask any staff member about the organization’s work.
- The right to provide feedback about your experience.
- The right to receive financial information or an annual report.
If at any time a volunteer feels that the above rights have been infringed upon in any way, s/he should notify the Executive Director, Steve Werlin, at [email protected], or the Board President, Dan Scholfield, at [email protected].