Winter Shelter

Old First was the first church in Philadelphia to open its doors to homeless Philadelphians back in 1984. Today, through a partnership with Bethesda Project, Old First’s Social Hall becomes home to 30 residents from November through April. Bethesda staff serve as night supervisors and provide the primary social services and case management.  Old First provides the space and organizes outside groups to host dinners.

To Volunteer

CLICK HERE to see available volunteer dates!

Volunteers prepare, serve, and share an evening meal with the men of the shelter several days a week. Shelter dinners are great community-building opportunities: showing care, love and respect for our shelter guests who in turn welcome the volunteers into their home.

Volunteers arrive at 5:30pm with their ingredients, plates, napkins, and other essentials, prepare the meal and then serve it at 6:45, eat alongside the guests, clean up, and participate in a short reflection before leaving by 7:45 so our guests can get ready for bed.

All volunteers must be over the age of 14. This is because we often have guests who are restricted from being around children by provision of their probation or parole. The maximum volunteer group size is 12.

To schedule a date your group to prepare dinner with the shelter residents, please e-mail John Bergen, our Outreach Minister, at

Recent postings about the shelter