Run entirely by students and volunteers, HSHS has a very large group of dedicated volunteers who contribute a wide variety of skills and time to the shelter. We normally have 14 directors, 14 supervisors, and around 150 volunteers.

If you would like to volunteer on a regular basis throughout the spring 2017 semester, please apply for a shift here!

For questions, or to learn more about volunteering at HSHS, please contact us (hshs.volunteer@gmail.com).

Shelter Shifts:

Breakfast (6:30-8:30 AM): Breakfast volunteers, arriving between 6am and 6:30am (except on Saturdays when they arrive an hour later), help the overnight volunteers cook breakfast for the guests and clean up the shelter. The shift ends when the shelter has been swept, mopped, and scrubbed down.

Dinner (7:00-9:15 PM): Dinner volunteers have a wide variety of tasks, from food salvaging from the Harvard dining halls, cooking dinner, and preparing the shelter for the arrival of guests, to greeting guests as they arrive, serving dinner, and running plates of food outside to those who are hungry but do not have a bed reserved for the night.

Evening (9:00-11:15 PM): Although not all fun and games–volunteers of this shift are mainly responsible for helping clean up after dinner–this shift is often cited as the most relaxing and laidback. Other than maintenance chores such as laundry and dishes, volunteers are free to sit back, chat, play cards or board games, or watch tv and movies with the guests.

Overnight (11:00-8:30 AM): Often dubbed the hardcore volunteers, overnighters work the longest shift. Other than assisting the breakfast volunteers with morning chores, however, tasks on this shift tend not to be demanding. Awake shifts are drawn up by the overnight supervisors so that everyone has scheduled sleep times. While overnight shifts are perhaps one of the most demanding shifts, many volunteers find them to be one of the most fulfilling.

Resource Advocacy:

Resource Advocates (7:30-10:30 PM) The Resource Advocacy program provides case-management to our guests to help them connect with social services in the Boston/Cambridge area. We help guests with employment, housing, transport, education, health services and more. As an RA you will be trained to assist guests and in the process will gain invaluable insight into the social service system. You will be expected to attend weekly meetings, carry a weekly 3-hour shift from 7:30 to 10:30 PM at the shelter, and follow up with referrals during regular business hours.

If you have any questions about volunteering as a resource advocate, please contact us.

Street Outreach:

Street Team (8:15-9:45)

The Street Team is a fully incorporated program of the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, consisting of 21 trained volunteers, that runs from November 1st to April 15th.

Each night, a group of 3 volunteers arrives at the Shelter around 7:45 to prepare sandwiches and pack up other food before going out into Harvard Square to provide individuals with basic amenities such as food, blankets, and socks; distribute information about available resources (i.e. healthcare, job searches, food during the day, etc.); refer individuals to local shelters; and build relationships with people sleeping outside.

The commitment for Street Team consists of initial training, participating in one weekly night shift from 7:45 PM to 10:00 PM, and coming to an hour-long meeting twice a month. Street Team shifts are a low time commitment, but they have high rewards — shifts can be incredible and sometimes draining despite their shortness.

Generally drawing on student volunteers with no prior experience with the homeless, Street Team looks only for enthusiasm, compassion, and a willingness to brave the cold.

To volunteer with the Street Team, please contact us.


Harvard Square Homeless Shelter
66 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


We are open from the evening of November 1st to the morning of April 15th. The shelter is open from 7PM to 8AM, except on Saturday mornings when it is open until 9AM.

To enter the bed lottery, call toll-free at 1-888-285-4038 between 7:30AM and 8AM.