Churches, volunteers needed for program

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Suffolk Night Stay Program will hold an informational meeting Saturday for churches and individuals that wish to get involved in the outreach.

“It’s a good way for someone that has questions to ask someone that has done it,” said Cheryl Griffin, coordinator of the program, which is run by the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk.

The program provides nighttime shelter and hot meals to homeless people in Suffolk during the cold weather. Churches volunteer to provide the shelter. Churches that do not feel like they can provide shelter, but want to be involved, have other ways they can help.

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This year’s program begins Dec. 30 and ends March 30. Each church provides shelter for one week, and the weeks run starting on Wednesdays.

A shower trailer that hooks up to the church’s water supply is towed to each location, Griffin said. The program provides bedding, sheets, towels and toiletries. All that host churches are asked to provide is two to three volunteers per shift, a hot dinner and breakfast. A bag lunch is optional. Transportation from the bus station to the host church is needed but sometimes can be provided by other volunteers.

“We want this to be a safe environment for our guests,” Griffin said. “They can come in and feel like somebody’s watching their stuff, and they can get a good night’s sleep.”

Griffin said eight churches are signed up so far this year. Some have said they would do it but have not yet confirmed their participation.

“Ideally, we could get enough on board to start this in November,” Griffin said. “It’s obviously not going to happen this year, but next year, I really hope we can do that.”

Griffin said churches that cannot host for whatever reason still can get involved.

“If a church wants to get involved but doesn’t feel like they can host, there are other things they can do,” Griffin said.

Transportation and providing meals can be done by small groups from other churches for the host church.

“We can always use volunteers, people that are willing to sit overnight,” Griffin said. “Smaller churches sometimes need extra help with that.”

Saturday’s event will begin at 10 a.m. at Magnolia United Methodist Church, 1764 Wilroy Road. Refreshments will be served.

For more information, call Griffin at 286-9126 or 934-1724.