Mahaska County Homelessness Coalition (MCHC) Volunteer Positions
Phone Intake Volunteer
Takes turns in carrying and responding to calls on the MCHC mobile phone, usually in 2-3 weeks increments, M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 pm. The volunteer with the phone answers calls and responds to texts, listens to needs, brainstorms solutions with the caller maximizing their resources (bigger picture/plan, family/friends who can help, etc.), and in light of available community resources (Love INC, County Relief, income-based housing, food pantries, etc.). Assesses if/how the MCHC might be able to help; ensures applicant is aware that assistance can be offered only once in a 12 months period, and that priority is given to helping individuals secure or sustain permanent housing vs. stop-gap hotel stays. Volunteer directs the applicant regarding the next steps. If appropriate, informs the applicant where to obtain an MCHC application form. Advises applicant to call back or text when the application is completed. The volunteer and applicant then arrange to meet in a public place (e.g. Love INC office, etc.) if possible, for the interview and to finalize assistance arrangements while keeping in mind the funding eligibility requirements and local parameters. Volunteer contacts select local hotels to arrange short stays of a week or less when appropriate, landlords when necessary to secure written or verbal confirmation of rent/deposits owed, others when appropriate to confirm information/plans. Volunteer communicates via email or text with other MCHC Board members to solicit input when unsure how to proceed, and with MCHC Treasurer regarding all approved assists that will need to be paid.
Financial support usually falls into 3 categories:
- Rental assistance
- Support with deposit or 1st month’s rent or ongoing rent.
- Emergency shelter
- Stop-gap stay in a local motel if permanent housing is not feasible.
- Gas cards to get to work or bus tickets to get to other housing options such as to return to their home base or to get to a housing shelter in Des Moines or Iowa City.
Individual Client Support
Provides personal 1:1 help to an individual seeking housing solutions. This personalized assistance may be appropriate when:
- The process of finding/applying for housing is overwhelming, due to trauma, lack of experience, other reasons.
- Lack of transportation can create barriers to getting to a shelter out of town, looking for housing within town, etc. A volunteer who is willing to provide a ride and/or individualized support can be of great help. It is encouraged that women assist women, and men assist men, and if possible, two volunteers work together to assist a person in need.
General Coalition Member
If these roles seem daunting, please consider being a part of MCHC by coming to monthly meetings and giving your input. As you learn more and see other volunteers in action, you may gain the confidence to step into one of these roles.
Ideal candidates will have the following qualifications:
- Coming soon.
A commitment to MCHC’s work in the community and the clients it serves. A heart of compassion for those living in poverty and a willingness to see the world from the client’s perspective, which can be very different than your own. Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and a passion for improving the lives of MCHC’s clients. The bottom line is: you just have to care. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t have any formal training about how best to help. All we do is try to find solutions for people who are in crisis. Sometimes we succeed in securing someone permanent housing. Often, we don’t. But we’ll never stop trying to make lives better for those at the bottom.