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 for dates from November 1 to the end of January, Here to see dates in February or March and Here to see available volunteer dates in April!

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 between 5 and 5:30 pm (depending on how long their meal prep. will take) with their ingredients, and drinks. (To be greener, we use china and silverware that the men from the shelter wash after the meal.)

Groups, welcomed by an Old First host, prepare the meal and then serve it at 6:30, eat alongside the guests, and participate in a short reflection before leaving 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 Alesha Thomas, our Outreach Coordinator, at

Recent postings about the shelter