Who We Are
We are a group of volunteers who has chosen to give one night each month to make life a bit more pleasant for fourteen homeless men and women.
We represent a broad range of New Yorkers, young, old, and in-between. We are artists, actors and musicians, students, teachers and social workers, stock brokers and investment bankers, lawyers and judges.
Some of us are Quakers; many of us are not.
What we have in common is the wish to help in a direct and positive way, and we hope you'll join us.
What We Do
We provide shelter and hospitality for fourteen homeless people at the Friends Meeting House in Manhattan.
The shelter is open seven days a week, every day of the year.
All of our homeless guests are referred to us by the Mainchance Drop-in Center, located near Grand Central Station. Mainchance provides many services including screening our guests for drugs, alcohol and tuberculosis, to make sure that our guests and our volunteers remain healthy and safe.
Two of our volunteers arrive each night to set up the cots and a refreshment table. Our guests arrive by bus from the drop-in center and then eat dinner. Ice cream for desert is a popular treat!
Sometimes, there's a lively discussion around the dinner table, and sometimes guests just want time to themselves before they sleep.
After dinner, lights are out at 10pm, and everyone goes to sleep. The volunteers wake up slightly before the guests, to set out a light breakfast. The bus comes to pick up our guests at a little before 7, giving us time to store the cots, tidy up and leave in time to go to work or to whatever we do in our daily lives.
If you'd like to learn more, we have a page about what it's like to volunteer at the Friends Shelter, and how you can join us.
All of our volunteers participate in a simple in-person training that lasts about an hour. The on-site training is not an education in social work, but a hands-on tour of the facilities: e.g. Where is the peanut butter?
We set out the beds and food, talk about the nightly routine, mention briefly the Quaker philosophy of the equality and dignity of all people, and we greet the guests when the bus arrives.
We encourage our new trainees to sign up for their first night at the shelter, which is always with an experienced volunteer.
Late in 1982, a small group of Quakers, concerned about the growing problem of homelessness in New York City, began to discuss a way to provide shelter to homeless people.
Fifteenth Street Meeting of the Society of Friends approved a plan, and our shelter opened in April 1983. Our shelter has continued growing so we now shelter fourteen people, and we are open every night of the year.
Where We Are
The Friends Shelter is located at 15 Rutherford Place in New York City, home not only to the shelter but also to many Quaker groups and institutions, including Friends Seminary -- a well-known private K-12 school, the 15th Street Monthly Meeting, and the American Friends Service Committee.
15 Rutherford Place
New York, NY 10003
Our shelter relies on donations to keep our guests fed and supplied with daily essentials such as soap and toothpaste.
Donations come from generous volunteers, parents, members of the 15th Street Meeting, and local businesses.
We invite you to learn more about giving to the shelter, whether you might be able to provide a meal or donate money for supplies.
For more information, or to become a volunteer, please email us:
Katy Homans, Carol Kuzmyak, and Phil Kovacevich
Operated entirely by volunteers since 1983
Jointly supported by the Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and Friends Seminary School