Enhancing Your Volunteer Experience

Since 1990, Charlie’s Place has served our homeless neighbors in the Dupont Circle Community with nutritious meals, case management, health care, clothing, a lending library and so much more.

Charlie’s Place also nurtures the spirit with our environment of respect, civility, care and fellowship, offering our guests a safe, quiet, and companionable space.  Treating our guests with dignity and respect is our most important priority. 

Charlie’s Place strives to be a welcoming environment for everyone. While you may be helping in the kitchen or in the clothing closet, our biggest priority at Charlie’s Place is the relationships we have with each other. We understand that sometimes it can be intimidating to talk to people with different experiences than your own and we hope that you take the time to get to know people while you are here.

Tips to starting a conversation

  • Be friendly
  • Introduce yourself.
  • If you have a free moment while you’re at Charlie’s Place and you’d like to join our guests for a conversation, we welcome you to connect with our guests. Just first ask if you can sit down. If you are with a group, please try not to overwhelm guests by having multiple people talking to the same person.
  • Understand that some people may not want company.
  • You’ll have more success if you keep the conversation to light small talk. Talk about where you are from and any other common interests (sports, weather, holidays). In other words, treat them exactly like you’d treat a conversation with any other stranger.

General Guidelines for Charlie’s Place Volunteers interaction with guests

  • No preferential treatment (i.e. giving guests money, taking them home, participating in physical contact, or giving out your contact information)
  • We encourage you to talk about your experience with others, but photos of our guests are not allowed. If you’re posting to social media only take photos in the two areas where guests are not visible in the pictures – the kitchen and the clothes room. Please use the @CharliesPlaceDC twitter handle in your tweets. Also, please ensure your photos are respectful to the issue of homelessness.
  • Please feel comfortable getting guests anything they might need, if they need it and we have it you are more than welcome to give it out.
  • Please refer any questions about the program or services to staff.
  • Let staff take care of any conflicts that may arise
  • Ask staff if you have any questions about anything!