Messiah News

Volunteers sought for Winter Hospitality Overflow program

Messiah has helped support the Winter Hospitality Overflow (WHO) program in Vancouver for over 20 years. The program was created in 2003 when the Council for the Homeless and Share partnered with the Greater Vancouver Interfaith Association. At that time, the shelter was operated 100% by faith partner volunteers. Since 2020, Share has provided case management for our overnight guests. "Winter Hospitality Overflow" refers to the period between November 1 and March 31. The program bridges the gap between limited shelter space and the increasing number of people who seek shelter during the winter months. Volunteers extending hospitality to people facing extreme challenges is foundational to the programs at both St. Paul (men) and at St Andrews (families).

Messiah was originally assigned to assist with the men's shelter at St. Paul Lutheran in downtown Vancouver. In recent years, the men's shelter has become year round under the direction of Outsiders Inn. They still utilize volunteers to be "friendly faces" and provide opportunities for clients to interact with people who have different life experiences than they. Friendly conversations with people who listen fully and provide encouragement are invaluable to these individuals who are on the road to recovery. Volunteers' extra hands helping to serve meals, putting away leftovers, monitoring timed tasks, restocking supplies, and other tasks allow the staff more time for peer counseling, but a primary objective for volunteers is to converse with the residents".

This year we plan to sign up for volunteer shifts at St. Paul the week of January 20 - 25. More details will follow, but please consider signing up for a shift.

● Two volunteers are requested Saturday-Thursday from 6-9 pm.

● On Saturday and Sunday there are two volunteers needed from 11 am-2 pm (in addition to the two volunteers needed from 6 - 9 pm).

● There are NO volunteers needed on Friday (it's a volunteer training day).

Additional information can be obtained at:, including information on how to sign up. 

How to sign up

Sign up an easy process. You just go online to and click the link in the blue box that says "Volunteer at St. Paul", then scroll down to the blue link titled "onsite volunteer signup". That will take you to the sign up calendar. Scroll down to the date you desire to volunteer and click on that date. It will ask for a name, email address and phone number. It will also remind you a background check is required. That is a simple form to fill out online and submit. There is no fee. Allow a week for processing.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Winter Hospitality Overflow Program. Financial contributions are always welcome as well as volunteer support. Messiah Lutheran's Endowment Fund has been a regular contributor in supporting our congregation's commitment to WHO. If you would like to make a financial contribution, it is easy to do at: Just click on the big green box at the upper right of the home screen, and it will direct you through an easy process.

If anyone needs assistance donating, completing the background check form, signing up to volunteer or signing up to provide a meal, please feel free to contact Brenda Gardner at 360-601-9258.

Volunteer Resources for WHO -St. Paul:

St. Paul WHO Volunteer Manual

● St. Paul WHO season onsite volunteer sign-up

● Provide an evening meal at St. Paul for 29 people by signing up on MealTrain 

● St. Paul WHO background check application – Background check is required of each volunteer, allow at least 1 week for Outsiders Inn to process this. The check is valid for one year.

● St Paul WHO Confidentiality Form – should be printed off, signed and brought in to St Paul on a volunteer's first shift of the season. The confidentiality form is valid for one year.

● Onsite volunteer training is offered at St Paul every Friday, between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. Attend any Friday, no r.s.v.p. needed; just show up for a tour of the shelter, explanation of schedules and rules and answers to questions you may have.

● With questions, or for assistance spreading the word about WHO-volunteering within your faith- or community- group, contact St Paul WHO Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Provide a meal to St Paul (another way to volunteer)

You or others in your group are invited to provide a meal concurrent with your/your group's volunteering at St Paul, or at any other time during the year. Food for 29 people is needed. Every day of the week, throughout the year, evening meals at St Paul are provided by individuals and groups from throughout the greater Vancouver community. Scheduling is coordinated using a program called MealTrain.

Detailed information about delivery of food, dates available, and a peek at what others are serving can be found on the St Paul MealTrain signup.

(This volunteer activity does not require a background check or confidentiality form.

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