What do Volunteers Do?

We hesitate to describe a typical day, as the work is very varied. Volunteers help in all aspects of running our houses of hospitality. In general, they have four main areas of responsibility: guest-servant shifts, in which they oversee the daily routine of the house (answering the door and phone, assigning chores, making sure meals are served, performing intakes with new guests); serving as a contact person for guests in formulating plans and connecting to needed services (essentially doing case management); weekly rotations, which are chores where each volunteer takes a turn (things like laundry and cleaning common areas); and permanent areas of responsibility, such as keeping the pantry stocked or the clothing bank organized. Nearly all of our volunteers are native English speakers, but most communication with our guests takes place in Spanish.

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It’s important to note that in the last several years, Annunciation House has drastically changed its operations more than once, in order to adapt to big changes in both immigration patterns (e.g. large numbers of Central American families arriving to request political asylum) and US immigration enforcement policies (from family separation to the Migrant Protection Protocols and more). We try to always serve the needs of our guests, even as those needs change. In the last three years alone, this has sometimes meant providing hospitality to a few dozen refugees who stay for weeks to months, and at other times meant providing hospitality to literally a thousand new people a day who stay for just a couple of days.

This has meant that some of our volunteers have experienced very different modes of service during their time with us. It’s important for volunteers to be flexible and willing to adapt to new circumstances, new modes of service. No matter what, our central mission will remain to provide hospitality to migrants and refugees, but how that plays out in the day-to-day work of our houses has been shifting frequently in the last few years and may continue to do so.