Provide a non-discriminating emergency shelter to homeless men within our community and the surrounding area.

The shelter shall operate from November 1 to March 31st, providing our clients a warm, safe place to sleep and a nightly meal.


To assist clients in obtaining permanent affordable housing, gainful employment and referrals to other social service organizations including, but not limited to, mental health agencies, health care providers, counseling services, affordable housing programs, job training programs, food stamp programs, drug and alcohol counseling programs, veteran service programs, disability programs, and meal providers.

To collaborate with other agencies and service providers that assist the homeless population in any way.

To provide hope through spiritual counseling in collaboration with area churches to all who seek such counseling.


In the fall of 2002 three homeless people visited Harvest Community Church one cold Sunday morning in November. The following day Pastor Gene and Pastor Steve walked the nearby railroad tracks looking for places where homeless people may be living and came upon those same three people who had visited the church the day before. The group agreed to take the pastors on a tour where they would visit several homeless camps hidden throughout the city. As one can imagine, the conditions surrounding most of the camps was deplorable, unsanitary and seriously exposed to the elements.


After a month of praying and planning, the church acquired supplies and created a space within the church building and began notifying the homeless community that a safe place was now available for them to live for at least the remainder of the winter completely free of charge. By the time spring arrived, we had provided shelter for 8 people.


Sanctuary Ministry, as it became known, did meet some initial opposition from the administration of the City of Woonsocket. But as the years passed, Harvest Community Church became an asset to the office of public safety in Woonsocket and a committed partner in the social service network in northern Rhode Island. Such exposure has provided multiple opportunities to bring the message of hope in Christ and the selfless service of His people into the public forum


Sanctuary Ministry is one of several winter shelters located in populated areas in Rhode Island and is funded by a grant through Rhode Island Housing and several private donors. Sanctuary Ministry has been a member of the Rhode Island Winter Shelter Task Force since its inception in 2009.

Resident data is collected and shared with the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless who then assess and determines the most vulnerable within the homeless population and connect these individuals to specific resources including housing programs.

The shelter opens on November 1st and houses a nightly average of 25 men 7 nights a week and provides hot showers and free laundry services and daytime storage of belongings.

Residents are supervised every evening by a team of men consisting of a full-time house manager and one or more male volunteers who are available to provide Christian ministry, companionship or spiritual encouragement to support the men through this time in their life.

Since our first year back in 2002, Sanctuary has provided over 51,000 bed nights.

Through the kindness and support of our community network, Sanctuary Ministry is able to provide these physical needs:

  • Meals prepared off site and served nearly every evening
  • Coffee and breakfast foods
  • Sleeping mats, sheets, pillows and blankets
  • Toiletries
  • Daytime storage of belongings
  • Mail service for current residents
  • Christian ministry and off season aftercare

Sanctuary Ministry is an excellent place for mature Christian men to serve as ministry volunteers. Most men serve an average of 3-4 hours for one scheduled evening every other week. Areas of service may include serving meals and assisting the evening staff, but most volunteers report that personal interaction with the men is the most valuable aspect of shelter ministry.

Men interested in serving the homeless are encouraged to contact Harvest Community Church and arrange a visit during normal ministry operations. All others are welcomed to contact the office at 401-765-1777 to find out where help is most needed.

If your church, school or community group would like to organize a donation drive of any kind we encourage you to contact the shelter director EMAIL HERE as you begin to plan to learn which need is most critical at that time.