Frequently Asked Questions
What is The INN?
The INN addresses the issues of hunger and homelessness on Long Island by providing food, shelter, long-term housing and supportive services in a dignified and respectful manner for those who seek our help. We are a not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization with a dedicated staff, a broad base of community support and a commitment to educate the public about these issues.
When was The INN started?
The INN was founded in 1983 as a single soup kitchen run by a small group of concerned volunteers. Working at a church in Hempstead, New York, the volunteers discovered that not only were there large numbers of hungry people on Long Island, but that individuals working together could make a difference in their lives.
The volunteers began to form a network of soup kitchens to feed hungry Long Islanders. Soon after the Hempstead soup kitchen began operations, others opened in Long Beach and Central Islip. The INN opened its first emergency shelter in 1984. The INN began to plan and institute a series of wide-ranging programs to help people from all over Long Island who were plagued by hunger and homelessness.
Who started The INN?
The INN was started by Pat O’Connor, a mother of nine, and Michael Moran, then a Chaplain at Hofstra University, who had been taking student volunteers to work at a soup kitchen in Brooklyn. Moran felt that there was a need for a soup kitchen closer to home. So he advertised for volunteers, 30 people responded, among them was Jean Kelly, an executive at a Long Island advertising agency. Jean Kelly is currently the Executive Director of The INN.
Questions relating to donations
How will I know that my contribution goes to those who are truly in need?
Since 1983 the INN has planned and instituted a series of wide-ranging programs to help people from all over Long Island who are plagued by hunger and homelessness. We invite you to take a look around our website and come to volunteer at the INN to see exactly how your contribution is helping those in need.
How do I donate?
Click the Donate tab located on our homepage. There you will be able to donate on line along with instructions and other ways to get your donation to us.
Where does The INN get its financial support from?
The INN has the support of generous individuals, religious, educational groups, community groups, corporations and foundations who have provided critical funding to help meet the growing needs of poverty-stricken Long Islanders. The INN also receives local, county, state and federal funding.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes. The INN is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Your contribution is tax deductible to the full extent of the law. For more information regarding this issue, please visit www.irs.gov/charities. There you will find a detailed description of exemption requirements for 501(c)(3) organizations and how you can get a tax deduction for your donation.
Who supplies the donations?
We depend on support from individuals, schools, religious organizations, community groups, businesses and foundations. The INN also receives local, county, state and federal funding. Click the Our Supporters tab under About The INN on our homepage for an exact listing of who continues to support us.?
What type of donations does The INN accept?
Food, clothing, personal care and household items are always welcome. To help ensure that our facilities continue to be maintained in the manner necessary to adequately serve our guests, you can also help by sending a monetary donation to The INN. Take a look at the Donate and How You Can Help sections of our site to find more detailed information regarding this issue.
Questions relating to statistics
How many meals does The INN provide?
The INN helps provide 320,000 meals annually to both children and adults.
How many people do you house at your shelters?
The INN's three emergency shelters (two family shelters and one shelter for homeless men) provide emergency housing to approximately 1,000 homeless individuals annually. That is an average of 70 people and up to 20 families nightly.
Questions relating to contact information
Where are you located and how do I get there?
Our main office is located at 211 Fulton Avenue, Hempstead, NY 11550. The Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen is located at 100 Madison Avenue, Hempstead, NY 11550. Driving directions can be obtained through www.mapquest.com.
How can I get in contact with you?
You may reach us by first-class mail, email and phone. Click the Contact Us tab on the homepage for our contact information.
Questions relating to services
What services does The INN offer?
Soup kitchens, emergency shelters, long-term housing, veteran housing and supportive services are the types of services we offer. For detailed descriptions of each service click the Programs tab on the homepage.
How do people in need find out about The INN’s services?
People who need our services find out about us from several sources (government, religious and community organizations) and we receive referrals from other agencies and even from our guests. Everyone can help us to spread the word about our work…tell people about The INN and what we do.
How are the meals distributed to guests?
Guests usually walk through a serving line similar to that of a cafeteria. However, guests are given the option to take a bagged lunch.
Questions relating to staff & volunteers
How can I volunteer at The INN?
Click the Volunteer tab on our homepage, print out and complete the volunteer application and mail us the hard copy; or fill out the email form on our website. An INN representative will then contact you within the next few business days.
How old do I have to be to volunteer?
To ensure that our volunteers fully comprehend the serious responsibility of serving those who are hungry and homeless, we ask that volunteers are at least in high school (and 16 years of age) before they may volunteer during hours when the guests are present. However, don’t forget that there are other ways to help. Those who are younger may come in, accompanied by an adult, during after-serving hours to help with things such as donation organization. Check out our How You Can Help or For Students section for more information.
Can I intern at The INN?
We are not currently hiring interns at The INN. If you wish to volunteer as an intern and are over 16 years of age, you would always be welcome.
How many staff members and volunteers do you currently have?
Among the INN’s 19 soup kitchens, 3 emergency shelters, 1 transitional housing program and 25 long-term housing programs located around Long Island we have the help of roughly 1,500 volunteers and a full-time staff of 45.
What is the difference between a food bank, food pantry and a soup kitchen?
- A food bank solicits, collects, stores and distributes large quantities of food products to food programs, such as food pantries.
- A food pantry provides three to five day food packages that go directly to families and individuals who have a place to live, but not enough food. These packages are meant to provide nutritionally balanced, simple meals.
- A soup kitchen provides walk-in guests with a prepared hot and nutritious meal. In addition, basic needs such as non-perishable food, clothing and household necessities, psychological needs such as motivation, self esteem and rehabilitation, and social needs such as support systems and meaningful relationships are also offered in some locations.