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Church Haven Hosts Homeless Homecoming

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Friday, February 15, 2008   

Southhampton, NY - A solution has been found that will allow a Long Island church to continue hosting a homeless shelter after some parents expressed concern about its coexistence with a pre-kindergarten. Beginning this weekend, overnight shelter and food for the homeless will again be offered at Southhampton's First Presbyterian Church, after a 14-week hiatus.

Parents and community leaders met recently to make sure the homeless program posed no health or behavioral hazards for a pre-kindergarten program also hosted by the church. Dennis Yuen, of the Peconic Community Council, says the forum sufficiently addressed parents' concerns.

"When they signed into the program at the pre-K school, they weren't aware that that church hosts 'Maureen's Haven' on Saturday nights, which it has for the last two winters, so there was concern on their part. At this point, there is no overlap of guests and the pre-K school. They're there on separate days."

"Maureen's Haven" is a program offered at more than a dozen Long Island churches. It provides the homeless with meals, showers, and guidance. After breakfast, the recipients go on their way. Yuen says the community forum, which included church elders, parents, police, school supervisors, and physicians, concluded with constructive solutions.

"Things have been looked at very closely, and addressed. The school is addressing security concerns; the church has also addressed security concerns and the overlap of space. There is no shared space at all. Good things have come of it, and I'm really looking forward to having the congregation of Southhampton Presbyterian host again. They are very excited, and I'm very excited to have them back in their home church this coming Saturday."

Since November, church volunteers have maintained the Maureen's Haven services away from church property. Yuen says the inclusive approach of Southhampton First Presbyterian is representative of the Long Island faith community's commitment to charity.



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