CAPS celebrates successful first year

Published 11:54 pm Friday, October 25, 2013

The Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk celebrated its first anniversary with a gathering at Suffolk Christian Church on Thursday.

About 45 people were in attendance to see how the coalition has been able to help people in need during the last year.

The group of 17 churches and faith organizations was officially started in August 2012. It began as a small group of churches that wanted to find a better solution to help people who approach them for assistance.

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More than 230 people have been served in that time frame, the Rev. Les Ferguson of St. John’s Episcopal Church said. The coalition has collected more than $50,000 just in the first three quarters of this calendar year and has provided financial assistance to the tune of about $43,000, Ferguson said.

The people who have been helped have received assistance with items such as housing, medical bills, hotel stays and more.

“It’s been a very interesting and challenging time, because it really does kind of live on a shoestring,” Ferguson said. “Not only are we dependent upon church donations, but church donations are dependent upon church donations.”

Even so, the organization is pressing ahead with new ideas.

Thursday night’s guests heard about the Suffolk Night Stay Program, which will kick off Jan. 1. The program will provide temporary overnight shelter for homeless people during the coldest months of the year.

Ferguson said coordinator Lorna Slaughter has helped coordinate the start-up program.

“That’s one of the things she has come up with in her dealings with all the people,” Ferguson said, adding that paying for hotel rooms instead would be a “huge expense.”

The organization aims to start off with space for 20 people a week. Donations at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church in memory of Nick Leverone will pay for two sets of bedding for the program, Ferguson said.

“It’s been a very busy but rewarding time,” Ferguson said of the last year.

For more information on CAPS, visit, call 539-2600 or email The office is located at 201 E. Washington St.

The organization’s member churches are Ebenezer United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church Mahan Street, Hillcrest Baptist Church, James River Community Church, Liberty Spring Christian Church, Magnolia United Methodist Church, Main Street United Methodist Church, Salvation Army, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Suffolk Christian Church, Suffolk Christian Fellowship Ministry, Suffolk Pentecostal Holiness Church, Suffolk Presbyterian Church, West End Baptist Church and Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church.