East End Homeless Find Shelter From Frigid Cold

East End homeless programs keep the most vulnerable safe from the bitter cold and snow.

When blizzards blanket the East End, some of the most vulnerable in the community — the homeless — find themselves in grave, life-threatening danger, some with nothing more than a tent to protect them from the harsh elements.

But on the East End, area houses of worship once again came together this week to ensure the homeless had a warm place to wait out the cold spell, as well as hearty meals and companionship.

On Thursday night, the homeless spent the night at Mattituck Presbyterian Church, with the John's Place homeless program, until buses began running Friday at 9 a.m.

The homeless were picked up by van at around 9 a.m.; most then spent the day at Peconic Community Council's day center in Riverhead; PCC is the umbrella organization under which the Maureen's Haven homeless program operates.

Friday night, they will find a warm bed and nourishing dinner with Maureen's Haven volunteers; the program houses the homeless at East End houses of worship, where volunteers prepare meals and lunches for the next day.

On Friday evening, they will be driven by van again to the First Universalist Church of Southold, where church volunteers have agreed to take 40 homeless, an extra 10 above the normal 30, so as many as possible find warmth and shelter, according to Maureen's Haven executive director Tracey Lutz.

In February, 2013, when a blizzard crippled the area, volunteers from Maureen's Haven banded together to provide the homeless with shelter from the storm.

"We have the most phenomenal volunteers," Lutz said. "Guests stayed at the Northville Grange Hall in Riverhead, thanks to First Parish Church, and Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hampton Bays from Friday at 4 p.m. until 7 a.m. Sunday morning."

Lutz said volunteers from the Assembly of God Church in Hampton Bays and Southampton Presbyterian Church, as well as some Maureen's Haven board members, helped out at the Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church — and even the homeless lent a hand.

"Many of the guests assisted with digging out," Lutz said.

During that storm, despite the hazards, the homeless were all brought in from the cold, Lutz said. "We were able to get all of our guests to safe haven — including those we know like to stay in tents."

RELATED: How the Homeless Find Save Haven During Cold Winter Months


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