For Tess and Tony Bezouska, volunteering with BEDS is truly a labor of love that has spanned three decades. The couple have been involved with BEDS since the very beginning, starting out as first-shift shelter volunteers.
Tess and Tony have helped out in many different roles throughout the past 30 years. They served as volunteer coordinators for the St. Francis shelter site their second year of volunteering. Tony was on the first BEDS board of directors. During the shelter program's early years, the Bezouskas promoted the shelter program to area churches. The couple currently helps with the first and third shelter shifts at St. Francis.
"It's just such as asset to the community to have the shelter," Tess said. "Obviously, it's an asset to those who need the shelter but it's also an asset to those who volunteer."
When the couple started volunteering with BEDS, the shelter program was relatively small. Clients initially were reluctant to stay overnight. But by the third year of the shelter program, Tess said the shelters were bustling with both clients and volunteers.
"The need was absolutely there but it took a while to get the clients to trust us," she said.
Volunteering has been a rewarding experience for the Bezouskas. Tess said she and her husband have met some amazing people they might not have otherwise gotten a chance to know. While there is certainly work involved when volunteering at the shelter, Tess and Tony also find the time to sit down with clients. It gives them a chance to not only interact with BEDS clients but also to learn their stories and make a connection.
"You feel like you're making a difference in your community," Tess said. "This is your chance really to make a difference."
Tess said volunteering at shelter is a minimal time commitment but one that volunteers come to look forward to.
"I almost always find that people absolutely love it once they have done it," she said.