Serving the Homeless In Philadelphia

What is S.H.I.P.?

S.H.I.P. (Serving the Homeless in Philadelphia) is a student-run organization that was established over ten years ago to help the homeless on the streets of Center City, Philadelphia. We send three or four students into the city every Saturday and Sunday mornings to provide the homeless with food (that students prepare on Friday nights), coffee, blankets, and clothes donated to us by the college community. The goal of our organization has been three-fold:
  1. to allow student-volunteers become more aware of our society outside of the Swarthmore community;
  2. to meet the basic needs of the Homeless through personal contact and by providing food; and
  3. to promote the cooperation of various organizations on campus to achieve the goals of the SHIP project.
Every semester we complete about 22 runs with around 50 volunteers. Besides distributing the foods and coffee, we have also donated to the shelters in Philadelphia (My Brother's Place & St. John's Hospice) the left-over food from Swarthmore's social functions such as the President's Receptions, Paces, and BCC parties. In addition, one semester the college community donated to us literally about four car loads of clothes which we passed on during our runs and to the shelters. More clothing drives are planned to help the collect unwanted clothing from the Swarthmore community and deliver it to the needy in Philadelphia.

History of SHIP
	Over ten years ago, Diane van Roden, who worked in McCabe Library,
read a newspaper article about homeless people in Philadelphia and about the
work of some outreach programs there.  She decided to start the Homeless Help
Project involving Swarthmore students.  On the weekends, she drove down to
Center City, Philadelphia, with a couple of students to distribute food and
clothing to homeless people on the streets.
	A few years ago, Diane decided to hand over the administration of 
the Homeless Help Project to students.  The Project joined CIVIC and became
SHIP.  The runs switched from late night to early Saturday and Sunday morning

Future of SHIP SHIP has always been dedicated to addressing the short term needs of homeless people. This semester we have been evaluating the effectiveness of the program and have been searching for possible service alternatives. We are considering working in shelters and soup kitchens (for those volunteers who desire a more regular commitment) as well as continuing the weekend runs. Additionally, we plan to continue our food and clothing drives.

Interested in knowing what the situation is really like? Check out these facts about Homelessness in Philadelphia along with more SHIP info.

Every person that goes on a run with S.H.I.P. is handed a few special instruction sheets. Read them for more information about what actually goes on during S.H.I.P. runs.

And so you can be sure you know what the runs are all about, check out some photos from actual S.H.I.P. runs as well as some log entries made by past S.H.I.P. volunteers describing their experiences in serving Philadelphia's homeless.

Also, here's poem to get your mind working on the subject.

If you're interested in other ways of serving the homeless, we also have a list of several different volunteer opportunities for you to look at.

Page by Carl Heiberg '96.