The women’s’ shelter provides sleeping accommodations for up to 8 guests, up to 6 days a week year-round.  Our guests come from the Olivieri Drop-in Center operated by the Urban Pathways. The Olivieri Center enrolls homeless women in programs and counseling to help them out of the homelessness.   

Since its founding in 1982, the homeless women shelter has been sponsored by the Society’s Social Service Board in cooperation with the Partnership for the Homeless (now Urban Pathways).  The Partnership relies on churches, synagogues and other non-profit organizations to coordinate volunteers and provide sleeping accommodations for the homeless. The city provides cots, bedding, laundry services and bus transportation to and from the Olivieri Center to the Ethical Society landmarked building on 2 West 64th street.  Our Shelter is one of the few on the Manhattan West Side that operates up to 6 days a week year-round.  

Our guests come from all walks of life.  Some have advanced college degrees and became homeless through a combination of unfortunate life events.  Some have had to cope with abusive home situations, lost a job or their job doesn’t pay enough to afford market rate housing, or they have health problems that led to the loss of housing.  All of them are working hard to get out of homelessness: working, seeking employment, or participating in work training. They receive social services and/or counseling coordinated by Olivieri Center.

Our shelter, which was named in 2016 in honor of the late Dr. Maria Friedman who single-handedly coordinated volunteers for over 30 years, provides the welcomed respite to these hard-working women.  Without a good night sleep, no one can be fully effective in their work and day activities.

The shelter is staffed entirely by volunteers, with most committing to one night per month.  Volunteers are organized by a coordinator who is paid a small annual stipend. We provide evening snacks, sundry items, and cable television for entertainment.  

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Shelter Volunteers’ Coordinator at [email protected].