During the cold winter months, Maureen's Haven, a program created to empower the homeless on the East End, provides food and shelter for scores of men and women who would otherwise have nowhere to go.
But with the Maureen's Haven program finished for the season, Peconic Community Council, the umbrella organization for Maureen's Haven, wants to spread the word that their brand-new day center, located in PCCs new site at 28 Lincoln St., is open every day to provide a full slate of services for the homeless.
"We have been fortunate this year to assist our guests more consistently with the opening of the day center," said Tracey Lutz, program director of Maureen's Haven at PCC. "They received a myriad of services designed to assist them with long-term plans including housing and employment options."
Since the Maureen's Haven wrapped up for this year, a majority of homeless guets have found rooms to rent, Lutz said. Many work seasonally and are provided free or very low cost housing from their employers.
Other homeless individuals, she said, have entered structured housing through organizations including North Shore Guidance Association, Options for Community Living and Concern, Inc. Four of the homeless who were among those attending Maureen's Haven at local houses of worship this winter have since relocated out of state, with two moivng Albany to live with family. A few, Lutz added, have entered rehab programs and hopefully will live in sober housing when the program completes.
For some, however, the spring and summer season, when Maureen's Haven does not operate, are very difficult, as the homeless have nowhere to sleep.
"We alway have a few guests that are not interested in any kind of traditional housing and opt to live in the woods in encampments throughout the East End and in Medford, Manorville and Port Jefferson," Lutz said. "We provide tents, sleeping bags and minutes on their phones in order to keep in touch with them."
The day center will remain open year round for the first time this year with case management and other support offered; transportation will be provided for community dinners on Tuesday evenings at Southold Presbyterian Church.
Kathleen Harnett, program manager at PCC, said her goal is to spread to the homeless that the day center is open; many are not aware that services including yoga, reikki, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, support groups, basic computer programs, resume writing, interviewing skills and job placement, and ESL classes are offered.
"We are here year round for services and support," Harnett said.