– John Benfatti, RYSEC Member
Since March 31, 2003, the Riverdale Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, now in partnership with Congregation Tehillah and the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR), has faithfully operated an emergency overnight shelter for up to six homeless men, and now for up to six homeless women. Our shelter operates on Monday nights only.
Homeless individuals seeking help are able to get services in New York City by going to a drop in center. One drop-in center exists in the Bronx: the Living Room/Safe Haven. At a drop-in center individuals are able to receive social, health and medical services. Included in the social services is finding affordable permanent housing.
The Living Room, operated by Bronx Works (http://bronxworks.org/), has a list of available beds on any given night. They fill those beds with individuals in their care who are not exhibiting any negative behavior from alcohol, drugs, or mental illness and are demonstrating good personal hygiene.
In addition, BronxWorks provides transportation to and from the Living Room/Safe Haven, clean linens for each night that we operate and are in the process of providing staples such as coffee, juice and other imperishable food items which is served to our guests.
Meals donated by members of our community are also provided. If you are interested in providing a meal, you will find the dates available at Take Them a Meal.
Volunteers are always welcome to set up beds, serve the meal, clean up after the meal and provide camaraderie to our guests. If you are interested in volunteering in this capacity, please call (718) 548-4455 or contact our office manager by email.
Each semester we also get volunteers from our neighbor Manhattan College. They have been very helpful with bed set up, providing meals, cleanup up after meal service and welcoming our guests.
I have always felt that this service is the ultimate expression of Ethical Humanism and what we all should be doing. The highest level of volunteering is giving up your own bed for one night to spend the night at the Society ensuring that our guests do not need any special attention. We have never had an incident during our eight years of operations and spending the night is an extremely rewarding experience. If you are interested in volunteering in this capacity you can sign up online at RYSEC MySignUp.
In addition, volunteers have provided music for our guests including professional musicians from the group Spuyten Duyvil and MUSICFORTHELOVE by Wally Levis and Curt Kendrick (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- In The Riverdale Press, April 3, 2013: Homeless Shelter Proves Critics Wrong.
I would like to express our gratitude for all of those who have volunteered in any capacity over the year and contributed to making this program a wonderful success. Keep up the good work. As of May 25, 2015 we have operated 633 Monday nights, and served 670 different individuals.