“He was willing to share about his struggles with me, and he changed my life,” Jonni shared with us as she reflected on an impactful encounter with a homeless individual in Wichita who inspired her to start volunteering. Like many of us, Jonni Tennant was largely unaware of the affordable housing and homelessness crisis for a long time, but after learning about the need here in Wichita, she’s been volunteering ever since.
“15 years ago, I was pretty ignorant to the fact that homelessness was an issue. When we moved to Riverside, I saw a man who had a sign that said Anything Helps. He stayed on my heart for a week until I stopped and talked to him. His name was Tim, and he educated me on the fact that there are people living under bridges,” she shared.
Jonni has a passion for others and a vision for her community to thrive. “I was inspired to volunteer at the shelter because I saw the need,” she said. “People in our community spend so much time just trying to survive, and I want to help make sure they have their basic needs met, so they can move on past that…beyond just surviving.”
She has been volunteering with HK’s Emergency Winter Shelter (EWS) for 6 years and says that her favorite part is “seeing individuals get the case management they need.” She said, “It’s also nice to see them get their basic needs met, whether it’s a new pair of shoes, or a purse–and maybe they haven’t had a purse in years.”
Jonni shared a story with us of a woman staying at the Women’s EWS who was given a pair of donated fleece pajamas. “She came in wearing them and said, ‘I have to show you; I feel so beautiful.’ The things we take for granted are the basic needs these women don’t have access to.”
Volunteers are a huge part of the work we do, and we’re so thankful for Jonni and all the volunteers who share our passion for our neighbors who need a helping hand. We’re able to serve thousands of Wichitans facing homelessness and poverty thanks to the countless hours that our volunteers serve. Learn more about how to get involved and volunteer with HK.