Shelter closes for holiday

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Hope Bradshaw knew she might be told that the Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless might not have room for another person on Christmas Eve.

But the Elephant’s Fork Elementary School teacher, who was helping a young mother adopted by her Sunday school class on Wednesday, didn’t expect to hear that the shelter was closing at noon Wednesday for the Christmas holiday. The shelter reopened at 8 a.m. Friday.

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&uot;It concerned me the family was living in a hotel,&uot; said Bradshaw. &uot;But finding that the shelter was closed raised a lot questions.&uot;

Terry Miller, the shelter’s executive director for the past three years, said she has always tried to close for the three major holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and when possible, Easter – by encouraging residents to visit their families for the holidays.

&uot;We do close on holidays when our residents tell us they will be spending the day with their families,&uot; Miller said. &uot;That helps us work toward one of our goals of helping residents rebuild bridges with their family members,&uot; Miller said.

The shelter would remain open if a resident has no place to stay for the holiday, Miller stressed. If that case arose, employees would rotate shifts to keep the facility open for the day.

Five families left the shelter on Christmas Eve to spend the holiday with family members, said Quaran Owens, a shelter employee. As of noon Friday, only one of those families had returned.

Most of those families who were in the shelter last week were due to leave last week anyway, said Miller. However, she said she had granted extensions to several who would be moving into permanent residences in January.