Boise & Garden City

Interfaith Sanctuary will open days, offer education, snacks, family services

Boise homeless shelter builds playground for kids

Jodi Peterson, co-director of Interfaith Sanctuary, talks about a new playground for kids at the homeless shelter. A ribbon cutting will be held at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the shelter, 1620 River St.
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Jodi Peterson, co-director of Interfaith Sanctuary, talks about a new playground for kids at the homeless shelter. A ribbon cutting will be held at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the shelter, 1620 River St.

Jodi Peterson said she didn’t want to wait any longer to start offering daytime services at Interfaith Sanctuary, the Boise homeless shelter where she is co-director.

Peterson said she didn’t want people who stay at Sanctuary to be exposed to the cold between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., when the shelter has traditionally closed. So starting Monday, the shelter will be open to families between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Sanctuary will offer a variety of services during these hours, including early education for children, parenting classes, case management support, snacks and scheduled nap times, Peterson said. Families with school-age children will be offered after-school programs, again with snacks and case management opportunities.

Though its timing is based on the coming winter, Peterson said, Sanctuary’s daytime hours will be permanent, not seasonal.

For now, daytime hours are for families only, Peterson said. She wants to open them up to single adults as well, but she doesn’t have the staff or money in place yet. Peterson said Sanctuary also hopes to open during the day on weekends, but that expansion also would rely on additional money.

The city of Boise offers daytime shelter hours during the cold-weather months at Pioneer Neighborhood Community Center. That shelter will be open every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., from Dec. 3 to April 1, Boise Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway said Friday.

Tim Flaherty, a former Interfaith Sanctuary employee, also plans to open a daytime shelter based on the needs he saw at Sanctuary. It’s unclear when that shelter might be available.

Sanctuary’s move continues a trend toward providing supportive services in addition to a place to sleep. Last year, the shelter took on a team of case managers to help people staying there navigate various life obstacles, such as getting identification documents, health care and insurance, life-skills classes and employability assessments.

Peterson said Friday that she wants to keep pushing additional services to help homeless people get on their feet.

The idea for Sanctuary’s daytime program came from Kristie Manning, Interfaith Sanctuary’s family case manager, Peterson said. Donors supplied educational materials and snacks, she said. The shelter is asking for cash donations and volunteers to help expand its services.

“I’m not surprised,” Peterson said. “Our community is so amazingly generous. And if they know how they can help, they do.”

Besides locking down long-term financial support for daytime hours, Peterson said Sanctuary will lean on help from Boise State University’s College of Education, which will supply student interns, curriculum support and research on the program’s effect. Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children and IdahoStars, which specializes in child-care referral, will advise Sanctuary on curriculum and activities, Peterson said.

But the most important source of information on how to improve daytime hours might be the people who use the program. Peterson said shelter leaders will ask guests for their ideas and use them to expand or tweak Sanctuary’s daytime hours.

Helping at Interfaith Sanctuary

Interfaith Sanctuary, a homeless shelter in Boise, is asking for volunteers and cash donations to maintain and expand its new daytime hours.

You can make cash donations directly at Interfaith Sanctuary’s website: Because of limited storage space at the shelter, this can be the best way to help. You can buy items for the early education program at the online wish-list for Interfaith Sanctuary.

Food donations also are needed. Among the items are string cheese, cheddar cheese, low-fat cheeses, whole-grain crackers and bagels, StonyField Yogurt products, crackers, peanut butter, low-sugar granola and energy bars, and low-salt pretzels.