Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Hands of volunteers reaching out to serve a meal

Blog: Volunteers met with warm smile at Harbor Light Center

Added on Thursday, April 24, 2014

Written by Ashley Grossman, social media and content manager for The Salvation Army Northern Division.

Caring, thoughtful, passionate, strong, determined. These are the characteristics that come to mind when I think about the volunteers of Harbor Light Center.

“Harbor Light needs volunteers. We can’t complete our mission unless we have caring people that want to make a difference,” said Bethany Tjomhom, Volunteer Coordinator at Harbor Light.

She is absolutely right. Volunteers have a large role. Whether it’s serving hot meals, collecting donated goods from grocery stores, washing laundry or general upkeep, every helping hand is appreciated.

Recently I had the opportunity to work alongside these amazing individuals when I volunteered to serve a hot lunch for the participants of Harbor Light’s rehabilitation programs with a couple of my coworkers. When I spoke with the volunteers, many of them were happy to share stories about their history volunteering with the shelter. I was surprised to find out that many of them had been giving their time at Harbor Light for years.

I could see why they would choose to be a consistent volunteer; it’s incredibly rewarding. The people we served met us with a warm smile. A few even stopped to chat. There was one man who noticed that I was a new volunteer. He asked how my first day was going and then proceeded to tell me that I was working for “the best place in town.” He told me about his time at Harbor Light and how he was so thankful to be around such great people.

Outside of serving hot meals, Tjomhom gave us a tour of Harbor Light, which included a stop at their clothing closet. Harbor Light serves those from all walks of life including individuals recently released from prison. When they leave, they’re issued dark jeans and a denim top, which stands out just as much as an orange jumpsuit. The first thing these people need to have a real shot at a new life path is clothing. Volunteers enable the closet to be open and help create that ‘fresh start.’

On top of the need for long-term volunteers, you may be surprised to know that the one donated item they need most is towels for the residents. Tjomhom mentioned that it’s difficult to keep up with the demand when over 400 people stay at the shelter every night. In addition to towels, quality walking shoes for men, women and children are in high demand. Many of the people who come to Harbor Light are one their feet all day long and it’s important that they have a pair of good shoes.

To volunteer or donate the needed items, call Bethany Tjornhom at 612-767-3119.