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Community Bands Together To Bring Christmas to the Homeless

St. Agnes Church in Greenport will serve Christmas Day dinner to homeless guests.

The East End's homeless with be treated to Christmas Day dinner and a warm bed at Greenport's St. Agnes Church.

According to Noreen Bischoff, coordinator of the homeless program at St. Agnes, guests will be served Christmas Day dinner and a lunch to go for the next day, all donated by members of the community. Santa will make an appearance and hand out gifts.

"It will be a festive evening for sure," Bischoff said, adding that homeless guests have numbered around 35 to 40 during this winter's program.

On the South Fork, Westhampton Presbyterian is expecting about 18 guests on Christmas eve and area restaurants have agreed to bring trays of turkey, pasta and salad for a feast. According to Lisa Finn, who is a coordinator for Maureen's Haven and a Patch editor, 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.

"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 on the North Fork to Riverhead and 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.

And with so many needing warmth, Lutz said not only will Westhampton Presbyterian open it's doors on Christmas Eve, but so will the Grange in Riverhead. That location, she said, is expected to house some 22 guests on Christmas Eve.

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ABetterWayforRiverhead December 22, 2012 at 03:14 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.
Caren Heacock December 22, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Yes, thank you for clarifying. Both St Agnes and Mattituck Presbyterian are not under the auspices of Maureen's Haven, but are known as John's Place Greenport and John's Place Mattituck, under the auspices of Mercy Haven, a not-for-profit based in Islip Terrace. Both Maureen's Haven and John's Place collaborate to serve the same population. The Mattituck Presbyterian Church site has been opened to the homeless since the inception of the outreach, along with St Mary's. The Mattituck site is hosting a fund raiser: "Rockin' For the Homeless V", on Saturday, January 26th at Polish Town Hall. Please check out our website: rockinforthehomeless.com for further information. A portion of the proceeds will benefit East End Hurricane Sandy victims this year. Thank you all for caring. Caren Heacock, director of JPM

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