Sandra Thulin knows only too well what it's like to be homeless.
She was homeless for close to a year and that experience drew her to volunteer for Safe Shelter Shoalhaven.
"I was homeless for eight months in Nowra and this was four years ago," Sandra said.
"I slept in my car and in other people's places for as long as they could put us up."
Sandra was quick to volunteer at Nowra based homeless shelter - pretty much as soon as it opened.
"As a volunteer, I sign in our guests and get them things they need like linen or toiletries. I will help in any way I can," Sandra said.
Sandra says volunteering is rewarding.
"It [volunteering] gives me a better perspective on how homeless people live. It gives me a better insight into the different types of mental health issues people have out there," she said.
Sandra said the people who stay at the shelter were grateful for the support they receive.
It matters when someone listens to their stories because it makes them feel valued and worth somethingSade a Safe Shelter volunteer
Mrs Thulin said the shelter's guests often just appreciate someone talking to them.
"Some of the stories our guests share are funny and some of them are sad," she said.
"I don't push them into talking - I just let them do the talking if they want. I mainly just sit there and lend an ear."
Her own experience and a strong desire to help people in need saw her become a volunteer.
"I try to help our guests as much as I can," she said.
Talking to homeless people gives Sandra a chance to reflect on her own journey.
Sandra, after 130 different applications, finally got a place to live.
"I now have a home and have been there for four years," Sandra said.
Sandra would have been happy if Safe Shelter was opened when she was homeless.
Fellow volunteer Sade Goldstein said joining the safe shelter team was a way for people to be apart of the community.
"I would say most of the problems in our community can be solved by our community," Sade said.
"Volunteering is about people coming together and giving themselves, their time and just having the opportunity to show kindness and compassion to other people.
"Really volunteering here does make a difference and I think everyone is looking for a bit of kindness."
Safe Shelter is always looking for more volunteers.
They have two shifts each night - 4pm-10pm and 10pm-9am.
Read More: Shelter supplies hope comfort and support
Sade said the shelter was "100 per cent" run by volunteers.
"It would cease to exist without our volunteers. We need volunteers and we also value them highly," she said.
"We have a lot of respect to the people who volunteer their time."
If you are interested, please fill in the form at www.jotform.com/ourforms2018/safe-shelter-shoalhaven and someone from the shelter will get back to you.
Sade helps with various roles and also does shifts helping support the shelter's guests.
Sometimes it's just a chat.
"It matters when someone listens to their stories because it makes them feel valued and worth something," Sade said.
Sade said they do not judge homeless people and they accept everyone.
Sade is also studying a diploma in community services.
"Some of the stats say having a mental illness does not necessarily increase your chances of being homeless but being homeless does increase the chances of you developing a mental illness because it's such a chaotic and stressful time in someone's lives," she said.
Sade said having the shelters helps relieve a homeless person's stress as they don't have to be continually looking over their shoulder or half awake at night out of fear.
"I can't imagine what it would be like to live a day in their shoes let alone every day," Sade said.