Columbia faith communities prepare for annual homeless shelter

Dec 9, 2013

Sacred Heart Catholic Church will be one of the host churches for Room at the Inn.
Credit Kellie Kotraba/ColumbiaFAVS

Faith communities around Columbia are preparing for the annual start of Room at the Inn, a homeless shelter open in January and February.

The shelter is operated as a collaboration among religious groups.

Last year, Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church hosted the shelter for the duration of the season, and volunteers came from other groups around the community.

This year, five different churches are taking turns hosting. Janet Schisser, who directs the shelter, said since homelessness is a community-wide problem, it makes sense to divide up the work among more people throughout the community. It’s also too much for one congregation to do for the whole two months.

 Schedule of host churches:·         Broadway Christian Church (Jan. 1–11)·         Calvary Episcopal Church (Jan. 12-18)·         Missouri United Methodist Church (Jan 19–Feb. 2)·         Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Feb. 3–Feb. 16)·         Community United Methodist Church (Feb. 17-28)

Transportation will be provided for the homeless. Every evening, Missouri United Methodist Church will provide its van to pick people up at Loaves and Fishes, a food ministry located at Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church.

All the churches are on the morning bus routes, except on weekends – Missouri United Methodist Church will offer its van then, too.

Host churches are trying to get people from within their congregations to volunteer during their hosting period, but anyone is welcome to volunteer at any time, regardless of faith affiliation.

To volunteer, email You’ll receive a link to a page, where you can choose your shifts.

All volunteers are strongly encouraged to attend a training session.

 Training session schedule:·         6:30 – 9 p.m. Dec 9, Broadway Christian Church·         6:30 – 9 p.m. Dec. 17, Congregation Beth Shalom·         9 a.m. – noon Jan. 4, Calvary Episcopal Church·         6:30 – 9 p.m. Jan 9, Sacred Heart Catholic Church·         6:30 – 9 p.m. Jan. 14, Missouri United Methodist Church·         6:30 – 9 p.m. Jan. 28, First Baptist Church

The shelter also has a few paid positions: night coordinators and intake coordinators. People are still needed for both roles.

 Night Coordinators: Each night coordinator is at the shelter from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. a few nights per week, on a rotating schedule. The night coordinator is the primary on-call person. There is a place set aside for the night coordinator to sleep, so those who have day jobs can take the position more easily. Ideally, there will be four night coordinators. There are currently only two, so there are two spots available.

 Intake Coordinators: Each intake coordinator will help with registration from 6:30 to 9 p.m., for three or four nights in a row on a rotating schedule. There are four spots available.

To apply, contact Janet Schisser at, or 573-825-0952. You can also contact Jim Jantz at, or 573-239-7430.