Monday, November 9, 2009

Program to Help the Hamptons’ Homeless Begins

From Sag Harbor New York-

Last spring when a make shift “soup kitchen” was erected at the Tires Plus store in Southampton many people were shocked into an awareness of local poverty. The many pictures and headlines depicting large groups of men lining up for food presented an image of the Hamptons quite at odds with our area’s reputation for extreme wealth and exclusivity in the summer months. Yet being homeless in the Hamptons is a year round realty for the approximately 500 hundred people currently seeking shelter in the five towns of the South Fork of Eastern Long Island. That is the estimated figure according to Barbara Jordan, and affordable housing advocate living in East Hampton.

Since April, Jordon has been on a mission to give the area’s homeless a safe, warm place to eat and rest during the cold winter months. She spent her summer organizing volunteers and raising money to buy supplies for a program called Maureen’s Haven, a national program that helps local church’s set up occasional shelters for the homeless. With the help of several community churches and non-religious organizations, East Hampton’s United Methodist Church will start housing guests every Friday night starting November 6th and will continue housing them through March. Sag Harbor’s Christ Episcopal Church and Addas Israel will be a part of the community-wide effort.
Jordan explained the program asks area churches to provide an overnight stay including a hot meal, a place to wash, and other things such as AA meetings, nurses visits, and clothes to the homeless during the winter months. People are only allowed into the program after they have been searched and screened for drugs, alcohol, and unstable behavior.

Jordan was overwhelmed by both the media interest in the shelter as well as the community’s generosity. “People are wanting to find something constructive and helpful to do.” She noted, and added “People have been great. I have to put people on a waiting list to volunteer at the moment.”

So far the shelter is a real mix of community volunteerism, according to Jordan. Although East Hampton’s Methodist Church is housing the shelter, which will only be able to accommodate about 20-25 people, Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church is backing the venture both financially and with volunteers. At the moment various congregations sponsor a Friday night, which means their parish or group pays for and makes a hot meal, sets up the bedding, and arranges for volunteers to dine and spend the night with the guests.

More here-

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