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Thank you from CAPS Night Stay

To the editor:

To every church, organization or individual that participated in any way with Night Stay, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you.

Unfortunately, this year we had to end our sheltering season three weeks early due to COVID-19. This left some of our guests unprepared, as many of them had been working and saving to go into permanent housing. For many, the shelter is not just a place out of the weather, but a place to be fed. With most fast-food restaurants and church food pantries closed, this was an increased hardship for the homeless. Thankfully, our CAPS Emergency Assistance Program allowed some of them to go into temporary housing, providing them extra time to prepare for permanent housing.

During our seventh season of Night Stay, we provided shelter to 114 different individuals and had a total of 2,483 overnight stays. Approximately 7,450 meals were provided, with more than 9,500 volunteer hours logged! That is amazing! We don’t like to think homelessness is affecting our community, but it is growing here just like in the rest of our country. During our shelter season, we had 45 men, 46 women, and 15 families with a total of 23 children. This is a 375-percent increase since our first season.

The Suffolk Police Department were among those who dedicated their time to our program. Their nightly checks and quick responses when called were very much appreciated. Shared Hospital Services picked up our blankets weekly and cleaned them for us. The city of Suffolk helped us fund transportation to our host churches, which was a huge help. Many local restaurants donated meals, businesses donated needed toiletries and supplies; and, we had several organizations come to the shelter and provide medical care, offer services and educate our guests on local programs that were available. Thanks to benefits that our guests were not aware of, some of them were even able to secure housing, including one of our veterans! Last but not least, I’d like to extend a special thank you to Mayor Linda T. Johnson for visiting our shelter to learn how we operate and meet some of our guests.

Over 100 churches and organizations participated this year! While it’s impossible to list every church, organization and person individually, please know that we are incredibly grateful for you. Your efforts are making an impact on how this area responds to homelessness and without you, change cannot be accomplished.

Planning for next year’s season has already begun! If you are interested in getting your church or organization involved, please contact the Night Stay Administrator, Cheryl Griffin, at 757-286-9126 or email nightstay@capsuffolk.org. We are always looking for more host or co-host churches, churches to provide volunteers and meals, and churches with buses to help provide transportation to and from the host church. All supplies are provided by CAPS; we just need you to provide a host site, volunteers, meals and a caring heart!

To donate, or for more information about CAPS programs, please visit capsuffolk.org.

Cheryl Griffin

CAPS Night Stay Administrator