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CAPS adapts for COVID-19

CAPS is making changes to continue to meet the needs of Suffolk while keeping people safe.

The Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk, or CAPS, has made adjustments to help the community during this unprecedented time.

One of their most significant ministries is the Night Stay program that runs from November to March. Churches take turns opening their doors to provide shelter and meals for a week to the homeless during the cold months. CAPS also helps with transportation to the churches.

“At Night Stay, guests get a safe and warm place to lay their head at night along with fellowship,” said CAPS Executive Board President Don Leverone. “We can get over 30 people a night staying at these churches.”

The Night Stay program has been put on hold due to COVID-19 concerns. The tentative date to start this next season is Jan. 6. The board will make a final decision on Nov. 1 regarding the safety of everyone involved. This new schedule would reduce the 18-week program into an eight-week program.

Another concern facing the Night Stay program is that Cheryl Griffin, its administrator since 2013, has stepped down.

“We have a tremendous need for volunteers and a leader for this program,” Leverone said. “We hope that this delay will provide more leaders to rise up. CAPS has already seen God meet our needs in extraordinary ways. We are just being obedient and are planning to start in January.”

The CAPS office is located at 157 N. Main St.; however, the team has worked remotely since the pandemic. Anyone needing help can call the number on the front sign, and a volunteer will return the call within 24 hours.

“We are very blessed that we are able to function so well remotely,” said Leverone. “We have had a 30% increase in calls since the pandemic. We are not here physically but functioning at full capacity. The only thing we can’t do is walk-ins.”

Once a client calls, the volunteers screen the calls to find the severity of the need and what CAPS can do to help.

“Giving people resources to call gives them a sense of peace,” said Mary Sue Rawls, CAPS new director. “We enjoy the interactions with clients and are glad we can still have them.”

To support the Night Stay program, CAPS needs donations of gloves, masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer. CAPS is also looking for volunteers and is hiring for two part-time positions, one for the Night Stay program.

Call 757-935-5497 or drop off volunteer forms found on CAPS website, capsuffolk.org, at a drop box under the Suffolk Christian Academy portico.