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Night Stay Program lauded

The weather is warm and summer is definitely on the way, but our minds are on cold weather — both the cold weather just passed and the cold weather we know will return.

Yesterday, this page published a letter to the editor from the coordinator of the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk’s Night Stay Program. She thanked the many churches, too numerous to list here, that hosted the program as well as those that provided transportation, volunteers, food, services and supplies.

She also thanked the Suffolk Police Department for its support and Suffolk Quality Cleaners, Master Cleaners and East End Laundromat for cleaning blankets used by the program.

CAPS was formed several years ago by churches looking to meet the needs of people in our community while also providing long-term help that would break the cycle of poverty. The Night Stay Program, a part of CAPS, is another facet that amplifies that important work in the community.

Churches host homeless people overnight during the coldest weeks of the year, and other volunteers provide meals and other services needed most by this population.

This year, 116 different individuals, including 26 children, were hosted for a total of more than 1,700 nightly stays — on average, about 14 to 15 nights per person. More than 5,000 meals were served. That’s over the 18-week period of the program.

The program doesn’t just provide a bed and a meal to guests and then send them on their way. Doing so would meet their immediate needs but wouldn’t solve the problem of homelessness — not for the individuals and not for our community.

Instead, the CAPS program works with these individuals to help them find long-term housing and financial stability, therefore helping to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness that causes the need for the Night Stay Program in the first place.

We think the Night Stay Program is an excellent program of CAPS, and we thank all those who participate to help keep our community’s most vulnerable populations safe.

We do, however, look forward to the day when it’s not needed anymore.