Q: What is Room at the Inn and why have I never heard about you before?
A: Room at the Inn has been a temporary cold weather overnight shelter for women; however, during COVID -19 we have been open 24/7. Although we have been open for seven years, we intentionally maintain a fairly low profile, since many of our guests need to have a place that is not well known as a shelter for women. We didn’t realize how unknown we were until we approached neighbors about hosting microshelters with SafePlace. Some of our neighbors were completely unaware of our existence even after 7 years.
Q: Who can stay at Room at the Inn?
A: Any adult (over 18) who self identifies as a woman is welcome to stay at Room at the Inn. We are a low barrier shelter, which means that we welcome everyone as long as they can “control their own behavior” and treat others with respect. We are an equal opportunity provider and take the civil rights of all of our guests very seriously.
Q: Who can volunteer at Room at the Inn?
A: Both men and women are welcome to volunteer at the shelter. We prefer that only women volunteer on shower nights (Sunday, Wednesday and Friday). As long as we have beds in the larger gym area, overnight volunteers should also be women. Volunteers in the main shelter area must be over 18; however, volunteers as young as 14 can help in the kitchen.
Q: What services does Room at the Inn provide?
A. When we operate as an overnight shelter, we provide light evening and morning meals, showers, a bed to sleep in and a small amount of storage space. We also offer opportunities for women to do laundry every two weeks at a local laundromat. Now that we are open 24/7, we provide the same services, except we offer three full meals a day and we are able to provide one load of laundry per guest each week. We always try to get guests connected to the social services for which they qualify, such as SNAP benefits and Oregon Health Plan.
Q: May I donate clothing to Room at the Inn?
A: We have very limited storage space at Room at the Inn; however, we accept donated socks, scarves, hats, gloves, panties, scrub/yoga pants and tops, and t-shirts. We refer guests to Vina Moses for other clothing needs.
Q: What else may I donate to Room at the Inn?
A: We accept toiletries, hygiene supplies, hotel sized soaps, any sized shampoos, deodorants, feminine hygiene supplies, combs, brushes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. Please do not donate dental floss – we seem to always have an overstock of that! We also accept individually packaged healthy snacks. We cannot accept homemade treats.
Q: Why join Unity Shelter, since Room at the Inn has done so well on its own?
A: We have worked closely with the Corvallis Men’s Shelter (Corvallis Housing First followed by the sponsorship of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis) almost since the establishment of Room at the Inn. We have also worked with other groups who interact with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. By joining with other agencies who work with the same population, we are able to support one executive director and spend less money on “overhead”. Writing grants together will also benefit our synergy while supporting all of our programs. We believe these collaborative efforts will be appreciated by grantors and increase our success securing grants.
Q: How many guests stay at Room at the Inn?
A: When we operated as a temporary cold weather overnight shelter, we served 18 women. As a 24/7 shelter in the age of Covid-19, we can serve up to 22 women in our expanded space.
Q: I can see the job descriptions on the sign up site, but what is it like to volunteer at Room at the Inn?
A: Most of our volunteers find the volunteer experience to be interesting and fun. That’s why so many of our volunteers have been with us for many years. Many volunteers come for multiple shifts a month and some come every week. Volunteers get to meet some really wonderful people – guests, other volunteers and staff. Volunteers get to listen to other women share their life story or experiences, help someone with a craft project, or just join in a session coloring some really intricate pictures. The shelter atmosphere is usually very calm and laid back. In the event of a problem, there is always a staff person and/or a more experienced volunteer who can help you learn how to handle the situation. During slow times, you can read, enjoy a movie, go online, or just sit quietly while knitting, writing in a journal, or whatever. If you are volunteering in the kitchen during COVID -19, expect to be busy helping to prepare and serve meals, wash dishes, and clean up the kitchen. In the kitchen, volunteers won’t interact with as many women, but they may learn some great cooking tips or recipes from our chef. We only hire interesting people to work for us!
Room at the Inn Frequently Asked Q & A
Updated May 29, 2020
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It is the policy of Unity Shelter to provide equal opportunity in employment and services for all persons and to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age or sexual orientation. This policy of equal opportunity applies to and must be an integral part of every aspect of personnel policy and practice regarding employment and service delivery.