Volunteers of America Services Praised by Shelter Residents

Interview 1 of Willie

VOA is beautiful. It’s almost like heaven. You have to be in by 7:00pm. If you’re going to be late, they want you to call. They have two types of programs there: TLP (Transitional Living Program) and ES (Emergency shelter). The TLP program is for one year. They offer drug and alcohol treatment programs. 3 meals a day, clothes, they even help you find a job. All they really ask is that you don’t come in drunk or high. It’s like a big family except you don’t have all the arguing.

The Emergency Shelter (ES) program is from one night to 30 days. If you need help they’ll give you an extension. The staff there is wonderful. They really try to help you. There’s nothing about their programs I would change. It’s great the way it is.

Note: Willie is one of the Homeless Grapevine’s newer vendors.

Interview 2 of Melvin

I really can’t tell you a whole lot about area shelters, I’ve only stayed in two. I stayed at the City Mission and at VOA. VOA is nice. It’s clean and if you ask me, it’s the best place to stay. If you can get in there. The rules are simple: no drugs or alcohol. If they think you are using, they ask you to leave. They wake you up at 6:00a.m. Breakfast is at 7:30, it’s (breakfast) pretty fair. Dinner is at 6:00p.m. You have to be in by 7:00p.m., unless you work and don’t get off work in time. You need verification for that. They let you smoke in the lobby but nowhere else. They even have a color TV. When you leave in the morning, you can’t come back in until 4:00 and you can’t leave once you’ve checked in. The people in the TLP (Transitional Living Program) have a little more freedom, they can check in or out when they want. I really don’t mind their rules. They have to have rules and regulations. Their rules really aren’t bad.

The only thing I would change about VOA is the favoritism. Some people are favored. They don’t have to follow the same rules as the rest of us. They can come and go and pretty much do whatever they want.

Editor’s Note: Melvin is a middle-aged male interviewed at The West Side Catholic Center.

VOA SHELTER RULES
  • “Emergency” is defined as a sudden and unexpected situation.
  • You must sign in at the security desk upon daily admission into the facility
  • Upon admission, you will be assigned a bed and linens. The linens are property of VOA. All personal belongings must be stored under your assigned bed only. Upon daily departure from the facility, you must remove all belongings from the facility. Any personal belongings that are left will be thrown away immediately.
  • Any medication must be registered and secured with the Residential Monitor upon admission.
  • Appropriate grooming and showers are required daily. VOA will furnish each client with the necessary toiletries to achieve the above.
  • The VOA facility is a non-smoking facility. All cigarettes and/ or cigars must be extinguished upon entering the facility.
  • Gambling of any type is prohibited in the VOA facility.
  • Individual radios and/ or televisions must be used with earplugs.
  • A client admitted into the Emergency Shelter can remain in the program for thirty (30) consecutive days. A client may not return to the E.S. for at least sixty (60) days after discharge from the facility (E.S. or TLP) without authorization from the Director of Homeless Services. An extension of the thirty (30) days is possible. The decision will be based on the client’s efforts to overcome obstacles during the first thirty days.
  • Lights and televisions are turned off at 11:00pm and lights are turned on at 6:00am. Clients needing to be awake prior to 6:00am need to inform the Residential Monitor.
  • Consumption and/ or possession of alcohol and/ or illegal drugs is prohibited. A client may be asked to use a breathalyzer to check for alcohol consumption. Refusal to complete test will result in a discharge from the facility.
  • Violent and/ or threatening behavior and/ or language is prohibited upon VOA property.
  • A release of information, which can be obtained from shelter staff, must be completed prior to letters being written on client’s behalf. Please contact staff one day in advance.
  • Hours of the Emergency shelters are 4:00pm – 8:00am. Clients must enter the facility no later than 7:00pm. If employed, a client may not enter the facility later than 1:00am. Verification of employment is needed if a client enters later than 7:00pm. Hours may be extended in severe weather, as determined by staff.
  • All clients of the Emergency Shelter receive dinner and breakfast. Dinner is served from 5:30pm – 6:15pm and breakfast is served from 7:00am – 7:30am.
  • Clients may leave shelter area only when dining or entering and exiting the facility.
  • I understand that I may be asked to perform tasks related to the overall care of the facility, if I agree to help, I understand this is considered volunteer work and I will not be compensated. I understand I have the right to refuse volunteer work.
  • VOA staff reserves the right to search packages and/ or personal belongings when deemed necessary.
  • Clients have the opportunity to receive referrals from VOA staff to an array of additional services that can assist in breaking the cycle of homelessness. These referrals may be to other VOA programs or outside agencies. All referrals and requests are contingent on client actions and motivation to progress into independent living.
  • Client Grievance Procedure and Bill of Rights is on file in the security area. Copies will be distributed at any client’s request.
  • Pay telephones located in the security area may be used with a five (5) minute limit. Staff will not be responsible for receiving incoming calls. Loitering in the security area will not be permitted.
  • Every new client to the Emergency shelter must attend an Orientation meeting during their first week. Times will be posted noting the meetings.
  • If parking a vehicle on VOA property, you must have proof of a valid driver’s license and proof of current automobile insurance. VOA reserves the right to request that your vehicle be parked off of VOA property.

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland, Ohio Issue 26 April 1998