We want to personally thank all who volunteered for the CAPS Night Stay Program for your dedication this season. We hope that each year more of our past host churches will feel more comfortable opening their doors and hearts to the homeless citizens of Suffolk. We are humbled by the outpouring of support for both shelter programs. Truly our Suffolk churches are the hands and feet of Christ.
We feel that the season, although short, ended successfully as we have guests moving toward stability.
We had two or more guests enter the Suffolk Winter Shelter, one moved to a more stable shelter situation near his family and medical professionals, several working with Catholic Charities for direction to employment and stable housing. We also gained a new partner, Salvation Army, for hosting our guests.
This message from Hayden Blythe to the Westminster volunteers says it all about why emergency shelters hosted by churches are among the “best practices” of poverty alleviation:
- They keep people connected to their broader community instead of isolating them from it. Because we had neighbors sleeping and eating in our church, we were able to develop relationships. We found out that 4 of our guests lacked IDs and were thus prevented from accessing services or moving toward stability. We were able to secure IDs for all 4!
- They prevent long-term dependency and encourage progress. Staying on an air mattress in churches is truly a last resort for people. One of our guests recently became homeless due to a mental health crisis and loss of a job. She had been living in her car since January 1st. We identified services and housing assistance that is appropriate for her and she is taking steps toward stability.
- They change our hearts. We are so easily judgmental and proud! Being with people who are in vastly different circumstances from us has a way of challenging our presuppositions and biases. I am always moved toward humility, compassion and Jesus himself when I serve in Night Stay. Conversations with many of you assure me that I am not alone in this!
YOU all are a part of this vital ministry. We cannot thank you enough for the sacrifice of time you gave to them.