WinterShelter completes 30th season

WinterShelter closed for the season April 29, 2014, after another successful season with both volunteers and Shelter guest enjoying our newly renovated kitchen. This year we had over 200 volunteers cooking and/or serving at the Shelter, with about seven new volunteers.

This accounting does not factor in the new volunteers that work for our supporting churches: First Presbyterian, The Ethical Society, First Unitarian, St. Mary’s in Wayne, and St. Clemens. As there is always an ebb and flow of volunteers, we also always welcome new recruits. (Click on WinterShelter page to find volunteer form on the right.)

We also welcomed two new youth groups and a returning youth group. Both the men and women’s soccer teams from Haverford College cooked and served one dinner each this season. At the end of the March, Laurel Casciato brought a group from the Southeast Philadephia Collaborative, who cooked dinner in the Shelter and then served it. This group included several high school seniors from the Youth Leadership Council, who directed younger students from My Future, My Community. All the groups enjoyed the experience and the men certainly enjoyed interacting with them.

One of our active volunteers will be turning 90 on his next birthday, but you would never know it by his energy level. Gene Dichter was an architect by trade, ultimately earning his architecture degree at Drexel after he returned from serving in the South Pacific in World War II. He worked at Vincent Kling’s, and then in the early ‘60’s started a general architectural practice on his own. Gene has been an active volunteer most of his adult life. He served on the board and then did a term as President of CCRA. He was Judge of Elections for his division here in Philadelphia, and is now on the board of William Penn House where he currently lives with his wife. He takes pleasure in volunteering and views many of the opportunities as an adventure. He started working for CORP first through Communicare, for which he volunteered about five years working with several elders. He started working at WinterShelter durng the 2004-2005 season and has served once or twice a month ever since with an ever-changing cast of serving partners.

This year for the first time we welcomed women weekly supervisors to work at the Shelter. Brianna Coleman, who has worked with us all season was born and raised and still lives in Sharon Hill. She was a supervisor for the parking facilities at the Philadelphia Sports complex before she came to Bethesda. She works at WinterShelter on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday nights. She discovered the job through Google, and is also studying psychology and computer science at Newman College. Since her days are upside down, she said that she takes all her classes in the morning, so to her it’s like taking night classes. She also gets to work on her homework after the men go to sleep and is enjoying working with the men at the shelter.

WinterShelter is finally considering entering the 20th century by adding and using a dishwasher in the Shelter. As it turns out, none of the churches which serve as Shelters for Bethesda Project use dishwashers. We all buy Styrofoam plates, bowls etc. which eventually all end up in landfills, where they don’t decompose. Jonathan Juckett, the Bethesda coordinator for our program is supportive and would work with the supervisors to see that our guests, who clean the kitchen each night, would use the dishwasher. We would also invest in Melamine-type non-breakable dishes, so the men would not have to deal with broken plates, etc. We would welcome any contribution of plates, bowls, glasses and mugs to outfit our new environmentally responsible kitchen.

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