The David B. Skinner Shelter is a 12-bed facility that provides secure sleeping quarters, food and fellowship to guests awaiting a transition to permanent housing.
The shelter is open every night of the year, with trained volunteers serving as early evening and overnight hosts. The shelter operates in cooperation with Urban Pathways, an organization serving the adult homeless and formerly homeless populations in New York City. The shelter was founded in 1986 in cooperation with The Partnership for the Homeless.
The shelter is named for David B. Skinner, M.D., a former trustee of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and the president of New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center until his death in 2003. Initial funding for the shelter was provided in Dr. Skinner’s honor by The Starr Foundation.
Our shelter guests are men ages 35 and older who are currently experiencing homelessness. Up to 12 men may be staying in the shelter on a given night. Our guests are assigned to the Skinner Shelter by staff at the Antonio G. Olivieri Drop-In Center, where they receive meals, clothing, showers, entitlement assistance, medical screening and assistance, counseling, access to vocational training and rehabilitation and recovery programs, and instruction in independent living skills.
Our guests are men of diverse cultural backgrounds with equally diverse life experiences. Some have never spent a night on the street; others have lived on the streets for many years. Some will stay in our shelter just a few months, others a bit longer, as they pursue a transition to permanent housing. It is not uncommon for a former guest of the shelter, having moved on to permanent housing, to return as a host. Fifth Avenue volunteers and staff typically provide ongoing support to former shelter guests as they transition into permanent housing.
Our shelter hosts give of their time every day to create a safe and renewing environment, and foster a sense of community between the congregation and our guests.
The Early Evening Host arrives by 7 pm, enjoys fellowship with the guests and leaves shortly after the Overnight Host arrives. The Overnight Host arrives by 8:30 pm and departs shortly after 6 am the next day, after the guests have returned to the Olivieri Center. The Overnight Host sleeps in the host room and rises by 5:30 am to make coffee and set out breakfast foods.
Would You Like to Serve?
We need hosts every night of the year. Anyone over age 18 is eligible to serve. Many of our volunteers attend Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, but you do not need to worship here or be a member to serve in our shelter. You may volunteer for both the early evening and overnight shifts in a single evening, or you may volunteer for one shift or the other. Many hosts serve on their own, while others serve in tandem.
If you are interested in serving as a shelter host, please contact Séamus Campbell, director of Outreach Ministries. You must complete a brief orientation and training. Afterward you will have access to the online hosting calendar and may sign up for any available hosting opportunity.