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.
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! For nightly volunteer opportunities, we generally cannot accommodate groups of more than six. 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.
- Volunteer Grants: Many employers will make donations to nonprofits with whom their employees volunteer. If you’re interested in making an even bigger impact through your volunteer work, contact us by email or phone at (203) 624-6426, and we’ll let you know if you’re employer participates in Volunteer Grants.
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: Generally, all volunteers should be at least 12 years-of-age, and those who are under 16 years-of-age must be accompanied by an adult (unless prior arrangements have been made). In some cases, we do allow younger volunteers, but this should be arranged ahead of time with our staff. (Note that while we encourage all children to learn about the work we do at DESK, most volunteer opportunities and our overall program setting may not be appropriate for very young children.)
- 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, and must consult with DESK’s Program Manager before signing up to volunteer.
- Court-appointed: We cannot accommodate court-appointed volunteers whose service is related to any kind of violent crime. If you have a question as to what constitutes a violent crime, please contact us.
- Multimedia Usage: DESK strictly forbids the use of any multimedia recording devices (audio, video, photographic, etc.) to capture information about our Guests and clients without written consent. (In other words, do not take pictures of or record videos or even audio of our Guests here at DESK.) We consider this both a matter of privacy and dignity. However, we encourage photos and social media posting outside of program hours, like when you’re working in the kitchen or cleaning up after dinner!
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].