Way Station

“I was hungry and you fed me.”

— Matthew 25:35

 
About Us

Since 1991, the Way Station has cared for the hungry and homeless of Houston by feeding them, providing social services, and by treating them with love, dignity, and respect. We believe that people who experience themselves as lovable, dignified, and worthy are better able to fulfill their God-given potential. More than 92,000 meals were served in 2013.
 
What We Do

Five days a week, including all holidays but Thanksgiving, the Way Station delivers:

    1. Hot, Nutritious Breakfast: Volunteers prepare and serve meals to several hundred clients per day.
    2. Medical Support: Four days a week, a doctor or nurse practitioner provided by Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston offers preventative medical care and mental health services and refers clients to the appropriate medical resources.
    3. Social Services Support:
      • A Client Services Coordinator helps clients address their individual needs. In 2013, 4,857 referrals were made to shelters, service agencies, clothing centers, Veterans Administration, drug treatment facilities, job search and training, Access Bus service, and more. Toiletries and Clothes: Personal hygiene items are provided to clients at no cost. In the winter, caps, gloves, and socks are available upon request.
      • Human Needs Fund: The fund provides eligible individuals with work clothing and boots, METRO passes, housing for one week at a drug-free facility, and funding for personal identification documents and birth certificates.
      • Mail and Telephone Services: Clients may receive mail at the Way Station, and a telephone is provided for clients’ use.
    4. Spiritual Support: Weekly bible studies and spiritual counseling sessions with Palmer clergy are provided on a sign-up basis.

How You Can Help

The Way Station is supported by Palmer Church, by donations from individuals, corporations and foundations, and by volunteers. Palmer provides the space, administrative support, equipment, utilities, volunteer base, and some financial support. We appeal for outside funding and volunteers to provide the balance of the support.

Give Financial Support

Your financial support goes directly to food, supplies and social services.

Way Station Chart-Funding SourcesWay Station-Costs

With your help,we can feed the hungry, reduce homelessness and collaborate with other providers to serve those in need. As we continue to serve the community, your generous contributions literally change lives…THANK YOU!

You can make a financial gift to the Way Station via the Online Giving link —OR— Individuals or corporations can sponsor a day at the Way Station by clicking on the

For additional information on our budget, number of services provided, and financial support received in 2013, see the Way Station 2013 Annual Report.

Serve As a Volunteer

We welcome all volunteers from the community. We depend on you to make this organization work! On behalf of the thousands of individuals whom we serve each year, thank you for your interest in serving at the Way Station. Volunteers perform the following jobs:

Cook | 6:00–7:15 am
Serve | 7:15–9:30 am Palmer - Way Station - Nov 2013 031
Social Services Support | 7:30–9:30 am Palmer - Way Station - Nov 2013 034

To volunteer, please contact the Way Station Director, Terry Henry, via phone, 529.529.6196 ext. 128 or email, thenry@palmerchurch.org and specify the type of work you would like to do and the day of the week that you would like to serve.

 

History

Initial planning for the Way Station began in 1989 when the vestry of Palmer Church was charged with developing a program to assist the homeless who gathered at the church for help. Five clients came in the first week in January 1991 for coffee, water, instant hot cereal, juice, cheese crackers, and a cup of soup. Now, every Monday through Friday, an average of 360 clients a day receive a nutritious hot breakfast prepared on-site, such as scrambled eggs, pancakes, grits, hearty soups and casseroles, and ham, as well as coffee and juice. After their meal, our clients can consult a social service coordinator. Other community service providers offer additional services such as HIV testing and consultation, medical consultation, and mental health consultation.

 

Orientation for Volunteers

“On behalf of the thousands of individuals whom we serve, thank you for your interest in serving at the Way Station. Following is a list of suggestions to make your experience at the Way Station successful. We appreciate your feedback. If you have observations to share with us, please contact the Way Station Director, Terry Henry. Thank you”

 

Clothes/Attire

As an outdoor facility, we encourage volunteers to dress appropriately for the weather in casual clothes and close-toed shoes that are comfortable and can withstand contact with food and drinks. Aprons are available for those who want them. We also encourage volunteers to dress simply and very modestly. Food-handling regulations require that your hair be covered, so please bring a hat. If you do not have a hat, the Way Station will supply a hairnet.

Parking and Personal Belongings

The Palmer Church parking lot at the corner of Fannin and Cambridge, just south of the church, is available for Way Station volunteers. Please lock personal belongings in the trunk of your vehicle. We do not have appropriate secure storage space for purses, wallets, keys, phones, etc. inside the kitchen or patio area.

Arrival and Departure

To cook, please arrive at 6:00 AM and go to the kitchen located in the back right-hand (east) corner of the patio. To serve food, or to work at that Client Services desk, arrive by 7:15 AM and check in with the security guard at the gate. The serving line opens at 7:45 AM, and we need to have time to orient you to serving duties. Upon arrival, go to the steam table under the arches. Someone will be with you shortly to give you an assignment and tell you what to do. Volunteers may leave before the serving line closes at 9:30 AM. Many of our volunteers work and must schedule their time at the Way Station to fit their work hours.

Caps, Gloves, and Hand Washing

Food safety laws require volunteers to wear caps or hairnets to contain their hair. Please plan to bring your own hat/cap if you do not want to wear a hairnet. Volunteers are also required to wear plastic gloves while handling and serving food. We provide disposable gloves. All volunteers are asked to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling food.

Ways to Address Clients/Homelessness Sensitivity

It is of utmost importance to Palmer Church and the Way Station that each client be treated with dignity and respect. It is also important to remember that many, though by no means all, of our clients are homeless and that they face discomfort and hostility daily. Most of them are friendly and cheerful. A few, however, may be unfriendly, withdrawn, or even hostile, but we ask that you be friendly, polite, and respectful to them. They are guests of Palmer Church—and we aim to treat them hospitably. Please keep your greetings and comments as cheerful and noncontroversial as possible, as some of our guests have mental health issues. Should you feel threatened or endangered, report the situation to the off-duty Houston Police officer or one of the several uniformed security guards who patrol the parking lot and the patio.

Business Dealings and Requests for Money and Transportation

We request that you do not enter into any business or financial arrangement with a client. Do not buy or sell anything, hire them for work, or lend money. Also, please refuse requests to you personally for money or for transportation. Our social services coordinator is able to provide aid to clients; we ask that volunteers refer clients to our social services desk.

Second Servings

Each client gets one serving of breakfast and is asked to leave the patio after eating. If a client wants a second serving of food, that person waits outside the patio gates. The line of clients waiting for breakfast is closed at 9:15 AM, and, if there is food left, clients waiting for seconds are served from 9:15 until 9:30 AM.