The Jewish Center of the Hamptons will again host Maureen's Haven Homeless Outreach Program in its second season providing shelter on the East End which starts this week, on Saturday nights. In anticipation of the season, the Jewish Center also hosted a clothing drive on Halloween for those who will go to their shelter for a warm place to sleep and nourishment.
Maureen's Haven, based in Riverhead under the auspices of the Peconic Community Council, welcomes homeless men and women at participating places of worship throughout the North and South Forks on varying days throughout the week from Nov. 1 to April 1. Guests are screened and transported from train stations and other known locations where the homeless congregate to any one of 14 host churches or synagogues from Greenport to East Hampton. Maureen's Haven does not yet have a provision for children.
Sara Blue, a member of the Jewish Center, helps to organize the shelter each week with the support of Cantor Debra Stein in the house next to the synagogue. She is in charge of food for dinner and for breakfast, while Dafna Priel, another member, handles the sleeping arrangements, including organizing chaperons. Members of St. Therese of Lisiux in Montauk will organize the shelter on alternate on alternate Saturdays at the Jewish Center.
"There's a living room and a dining room. It's a very large, old house. We set up air mattresses for about 25 people," Blue said on Tuesday, while she was in the midst of organizing for the upcoming weekend.
The amount of guests varies. "Sometimes it could be 15, sometimes it could be taxed. It depends how cold it is. The very cold months, we'll get more people."
On Oct. 31, the center counted clothing from about 20 to 25 people through the One-Day-Only Donation Drive, Blue said. They received coats, underwear, socks, and T-shirts. "We can always use more," she said.
"We can always use volunteers to help cook and serve, and we also need others to offer to spend the night when there are people sleeping over . . . that's the hardest part," Blue said on Saturday. Clothing or canned goods can be dropped off at the Jewish Center.
While the Jewish Center hosts the homeless on Saturday nights, so does the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton. Most Holy Trinity Church and the United Methodist Church of East Hampton take Fridays. A full list of participating church is available here.
The East Hampton Clericus also sponsors a Community Soup Dinner for anyone experiencing hard times on select Wednesdays from November to March at Most Holy Trinity Church. Men, women, and children of all ages are invited. The first will be held on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.
WITH REPORTING BY APRIL DEVOE