CAPS gets new director

Published 10:34 pm Monday, October 28, 2019

The new director for the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk has been on the job for just over a month, but she is already looking to make connections that will extend the organization’s reach across the community.

Mignon Burton had previous experience with CAPS and its impact in Suffolk from having served on a committee and having met one of its founders.

“It was right on target for what my personal goals are, and my professional and educational goals,” Burton said, “because all the positions I’ve ever had have been in service in some capacity.”

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CAPS is a group of churches and organizations who have united to fight poverty and foster community development through the sharing of resources, information and support that synergizes their efforts to help people and the city.

Burton said her goal, and that of the organization, is to prevent homelessness, evictions and perpetual freefall. She likens CAPS to a support system for those without one to be people’s extended family in Suffolk. She noted that when CAPS receives requests for help, its staff performs a triage of the situation — discussing financial issues and possible long-term solutions, prays with people and helps financially if it is appropriate.

“The principle behind this type of work is looking at people who have, at some point, had a sudden crisis,” she said, “like they were going along fine and there was a bump in the road in life. We’ve all had those, and it’s the human part of that, just wanting to see people overcome those obstacles, and I think that’s what ties into what my personal preference is toward helping people get beyond their current circumstance.”

She describes her staff as small but very supportive.

“Everybody here is just pulling together and willing to wear multiple hats,” Burton said.

In the short time she has been director, Burton said she has also seen the impact of its volunteers.
“Coming in and seeing the heart of people who have concern and genuine care for others has been more than warming to me,” Burton said. “How they have a heart for CAPS, it makes it easier for my day-to-day.”

To that end, Burton said CAPS is always looking for more partner churches, volunteers and support, as resources to help, she said, are limited.

“The need is tremendous in this city,” she said. “If you look at Suffolk geographically, in comparison to other cities, it’s somewhat isolated in regards to not having access to things, especially with transportation and those aspects, and it’s harder for a person of limited means to be able to have access to different types of jobs and so forth.”

Currently, CAPS has a coalition of about 22 churches, Burton said, and she is hoping to expand that to help with the city’s homeless.

Suffolk residents needing assistance can make an appointment with CAPS by calling 935-5497 or email She said people who need help should contact CAPS as soon as they realize they have a need.

As she continues in her position, Burton’s goals are to find additional partner churches and increase the number of volunteers and resources at CAPS’ disposal.

“We’re just trying to get the need out there for the churches to partner with us,” she said, “especially if they have the facilities to help out with night-staying guests so that they have somewhere to be in the winter months, so having to go out on speaking engagements to let the public know that we are here to assist, and we are a part of Suffolk’s community.”