Community Bands Together To Bring Christmas to the Homeless

Volunteers at the Grange, Westhampton Presbyterian Church will serve Christmas Eve dinner to homeless guests.

The East End's homeless with be treated to Christmas Eve dinner and a warm bed at the Westhampton Presbyterian Church with the help of area restaurants, Scouts and residents.

Other homeless will head to The Grange, on Sound Avenue in Riverhead, where volunteers from the United Methodist Church will cook a warm meal; approximately 22 guests will attend a church service at 5 p.m.

According to Lisa Finn, who is a coordinator for Maureen's Haven at Westhampton Presbyterian Church and a Patch editor, the church is expecting about 19 guests on Christmas Eve and a number of area restaurants have agreed to donate trays of turkey, pasta, salad and desserts for a feast.

In Westhampton, other residents have promised to bring gifts for the guests and Girl Scout Troop 2168, for the 7th year in a row, will be providing to-go lunches on Christmas Day. The homeless will also join the congregation for a church service at 5 p.m.

"We are so thankful for the outpouring of support from our generous community that will give our homeless a Christmas Eve filled with warmth and love," said Finn.

In its 11th year, Maureen's Haven provides overnight accommodations to the East End's homeless community through churches from Greenport to Riverhead and from Westhampton to East Hampton that open their doors, according to Tracey Lutz, executive director of Maureen's Haven Homeless Outreach program.

Since the non-profit program commenced in 2002 at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Hampton Bays, offering, at first, only one night a week to the homeless, it has expanded to seven nights a week, from Nov. 1 to March 31.

"We average about 43 guests a night," said Lutz. "So far, this season, we have seen between 75 and 80 different people."

Lutz said that the program is seeing a lot of new faces, which she says is a bit of good news because that means that those that have already been catered to have found housing and jobs either on their own or through Maureen's Haven, which has on-staff case workers who provide job search assistance and other services.

But, she said, the state of the economy is bringing in a continuous influx of people every night.

"We have all different people, some who have marginal jobs," she said, adding that others were displaced after Hurricane Sandy.

On Christmas, St. Agnes in Greenport will be providing beds for an expected 40 guests, she said.

ABetterWayforRiverhead December 22, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Though it was not mentioned, I believe the overnight programs based at St. Agnes RC in Greenport and Mattituck Presbyterian are under John's Place Homeless Outreach. These two locations are funded solely through the goodness and generosity of their local communities.


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