On Oct. 8, Mayor of Boston Martin Walsh announced that the Long Island Homeless Shelter would shut down because the bridge that connected the island to the mainland did not meet the minimum safety requirements. This meant that hundreds of homeless people, recovering addicts, and those who worked on Long Island had to evacuate for an indefinite period of time.
Earlier in April, ENC had been volunteering at Long Island serving dinner to the occupants of the facility.
According to Chaplain Corey MacPherson, “60 student leaders volunteered for the ENC workday on Long Island during training week.”
Divided up into five groups, these students have been helping on the farm, working in two rehab programs, and “Long Island clean-up.” Since the beginning of this school year, more students had become involved in serving the shelter in a variety of ways.
“ENC students volunteered approximately 300 hours on Long Island during the month of September,” MacPherson said. The month of September was an attempt to gain as many student volunteers as possible to serve meals, so that the students could learn about the Long Island community and possibly continue to volunteer in the future.
“The reason the Long Island – ENC partnership was so great was not because it was so close (which was helpful), but because they could take a large number of students in any given week,” MacPherson said, “The broad range of ways to serve was also very helpful.”
Before the shutdown, students had been organizing internships, planning to “serve meals every Tuesday, Wednesday, and every other Friday. We also had students that would lead a game night, with arts and crafts night every Thursday after dinner,” MacPherson added.
The number of student volunteers was growing immensely in September, and many people were committing their time to the shelter.
Senior Jessica Davis served her first time at Long Island during training as an Orientation Leader. She and five other people in her group spent their time sorting potatoes on the farm.
“The majority of the food they grow on the farm goes back into the meals that are served to the people on the island,” Davis noted.
She was planning to become a volunteer leader for every other Friday. With the shutdown, Davis is willing to go to other homeless shelters and volunteer where all the homeless have been displaced to, but while the Long Island staff isn’t taking on any more volunteers at the moment, her main goal is to reach out and help where she can.
The question that now remains is when ENC can continue to help and volunteer again. MacPherson is in contact with the volunteer coordinator who told him that they are incredibly busy with locating housing for all of the residents. Because things “are still too chaotic,” they cannot currently accept volunteers, but there is still hope for the residents of Long Island and also for all volunteers.
There are countless ways for students to volunteer in Boston as well as in Quincy. MacPherson referred to Director of Student Ministries Hannah Dawber or the Office of Spiritual Development as the go-to correspondents for ways anyone can get involved in volunteer programs and other similar opportunities.