Every winter since 1983, the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, staffed and directed by students at Harvard University, has provided food,housing, and a friendly, supportive environment for two dozen men and women each night during the five coldest months of the year.
I can not begin to tell you how wonderful these students are in trying to help people in need. Somehow they are able to juggle the workload of attending Harvard, maintain a social life and still have time to staff the shelter. It is clean, comfortable and they provide good food, warm showers, telephones, laundry and computer access. The students do this on their own through a student organization called the Phillips Brooks House. It is located in the basement of the University Lutheran Church located at 66 Winthrop St.
One of the students gave some blogging tips and showed me how to have ads on the blog from Google and Amazon that might bring in some income. For example the Red Sox ad on the right would mean that if anybody bought some Red Sox World Series souvenirs from Amazon a small percentage of the sale would come back to me. That actually applies to anything bought on Amazon as long as you enter the site from this blog. Plus I would be able to buy the the laptop from Amazon and get back a little rebate. Believe me every saved nickle helps.
this is how the shelter works
Staying at the Shelter:
Shelter Season: the shelter operates from the evening of Nov. 15th to the morning of April 15th
Hours: The shelter is open from 7PM to 8AM, except on Saturday mornings when it is open until 9AM
To reserve a bed:
2 week beds: Call in the morning at 7:30AM (shelter clocks are synchronized with national time, to check correct time call 617-NERVOUS) to reserve a bed. Beds are given out in the order of calls and are not guaranteed to be available. The shelter does not give away more than one bed per phone call.
Emergency one night bed:
What it is: When a guest with a reserved 2 week bed is not able to make it to the shelter that night, their bed is open for others to use as an emergency one night bed
How to reserve it: Call in at 9:30PM to see if any one-night beds are open. Beds are given out in the order of calls and are not guaranteed to be available.
If no beds are available, our staff will work to find available sleeping accommodations at other area shelters. T-tokens are available for referrals to other shelters only, and there is a 3 tokens per week limit per guest.
Guests with reserved beds must arrive at the shelter by 9:00PM unless they have informed shelter staff otherwise or risk loosing their bed. Guests with work-related reasons may come in later than 11PM upon verification of work.
HSHS is a dry shelter that provides a drug-free, alcohol-free, and smoke-free environment. Referrals to wet shelters will be made if necessary.
In my case the bed I had for 14 days will expire on Saturday morning and then I have to wait seven days to reapply for another 14 day bed. So for a week I have to scramble for a place to go. The Salvation Army in Central Sq is an option for 4 nights (then 4 out) but I don't really qualify for their long term program as I am not an alcoholic or drug abuser. I can also stay with a friend one night a week and also try for a bed in Harvard Sq at 9:30 PM. Because I am saving every nickle for Christmas that I can I will not spend money for the hostel in Boston.
The 'wet' shelters in Boston are so bad I would rather spend the night in the 'Hotel Citizens Bank'. Plus since there are no lockers there you may well wake up with your belongings missing. (somebody stole my sneakers one night at the Boston Rescue Mission on Kingston St downtown). Walking into South Station at 6 AM in socks is not a good way to start the day.
Still no luck on the long term beds in Waltham, Cambridge and Somerville. The reality is nobody with a bed is giving it up when it is 15 degrees out at 3 AM.
Again thanks for reading and for those who have offered support I am grateful beyond words.