Shelter board’s actions appropriate and encouraging

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 17, 2005

It must have been like public relations hades — an onslaught of publicity over homeless families being evicted at holidays; the executive director’s departure under a cloud and a state police investigation into possible criminal activity.

The Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless in the past year has been to PR depths few reach and that we would not wish on anyone. Be that as it may, the community can take pride in the shelter’s board of directors. Faced with such obstacles, few would have blamed them if they had jumped ship and boarded the place up. It would have been the easy thing to do.

Instead, they decided to persevere, work through the myriad issues their agency faces and recommit themselves to serving a vital community need.

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In today’s News-Herald, shelter officials published an open letter to the community in which thy reiterate that commitment and show they have taken steps to get their house in order.

Publicly owning up to past problems is the appropriate action and should serve as a lesson to others facing questions about their activities. Obfuscation and attempting to cover up typically only compounds whatever problems might exist.

And restating their commitment

is good news for Suffolk. One of the measures of a society is how well it takes care of those who for whatever reason are unable to take care of themselves. By providing food, shelter and counseling for individuals and families that have found themselves on the street, they are personifying Biblical principals of loving thy neighbor as well as filling a vital community need.

We also applaud the choice of Karen Rogers as interim executive director. With the loss of various funding sources and the negative publicity it has attracted, the Shelter’s biggest obstacles presently are certainly fiscal in nature and Rogers has a wealth of business management experience – as well as a knowledge of the community that comes from living here – that will serve the shelter well.

Homelessness is a problem in Suffolk, like it is in any community. The reason we don’t see it everyday is because of the good work of the Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless. That it is getting its house in order is good news for the entire community.