Since 2002, Maureen’s Haven Homeless Outreach and its volunteers have been an example of how community members unite and work together to help those in need.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, executive director Dan O’Shea wants residents to know now is no different.
“In these unprecedented times, Maureen’s Haven Homeless Outreach is doing everything it can to make sure that the homeless in our community are not forgotten,” O’Shea said. “The staff is working tirelessly and is continuing to provide critical services for our guests, and we fully anticipate an increased demand for help in the coming weeks. Our growing concern is that the homeless will be overlooked, and we are asking the community for help.”
The executive director said his Riverhead shelter is in immediate need of a number of critical items. This includes personal care things like protective gloves, alcohol swabs, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and paper products; cleaning products like antibacterial wipes or sprays, bleach, and hand soap; and non-perishable food. Due to the novel coronavirus and how it spreads, the organization is not accepting used clothing or other used or open household items at this time. O’Shea said he also anticipates needing tents, sleeping bags, flashlights, and other camping-related items, though these donations will also need to be new.
“Our plan is to continue to provide critical services where we can,” O’Shea said. “We hope to be able to provide meals and other essential services, and we are calling for support. We are currently putting measures in place to further step up services and we are actively planning on ways to ensure the homeless in our community will continue to get the help they need.”
Looking to April, additional plans are being put in place to coordinate meals. Maureen’s Haven is connecting with similar organizations and additional volunteers that can assist with critical services. The homeless shelter is also in need of volunteers to take overnight shifts, even if just for an evening.
“I would like to thank all of the volunteers and supporters who have been so unbelievably supportive of us during these trying times,” O’Shea said. “They heard our call to action and have been instrumental in helping us keep the homeless fed, warm, and safe.”
The executive director personally thanked team members Jennifer, Christian, Corey, and Ricky for their tireless dedication.
“They have been working nonstop for the past few days and have given so much of themselves to ensure our guests stay safe,” O’Shea said. “They give a voice to the homeless and are truly special people. I am grateful to have them on my team.”
To volunteer, help with overnights, donate, or set up a drop-off, call 631-727-6831 or email O’Shea at [email protected]
Family Service League
With change and uncertainty related to COVID-19, many adults and children are feeling pressure, which often manifests itself in forms of extreme anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation, and more.
Family Service League’s DASH Crisis Care Center and hotline are open 24-hours a day and remain an alternative to going to the emergency room of a hospital.
With 20 locations, including two in Riverhead, and one in Greenport, Mattituck, Laurel, Westhampton Beach, and East Hampton, the nonprofit offers mental health counseling, addiction treatment, and crisis care for children and adults. The hotline can be reached by calling 631-952-3333. The website www.fsl-li.org can be visited for additional services.
“Facing mental health or substance abuse issues can be overwhelming, especially combined with the additional stress and challenges our communities are facing due to the COVID-19 virus,” Family Service League president and CEO Karen Boorshtein said. “Family Service League’s DASH Crisis Care Center is a beacon of hope for Suffolk County residents who are struggling to cope.”
In addition to requests for assistance, the nonprofit has received calls from community members asking what they can do to support the effort to provide vital resources to neighbors in need. Despite the challenges of keeping services active during the national emergency, the organization remains ready and able to serve. For information on ways to make a difference, call 631-470-6770 or email [email protected]
Family Service League’s network of homeless shelters provide housing, food, and essentials for over 600 Long Island children and adults each night.
Senior outreach workers are also caring for vulnerable seniors unable to access services or suffering from social isolation.
“Another pressing issue for many people is their concern for the care and advocacy facing seniors residing in long-term care facilities,” FSL’s director of development and communications Tricia O’Hare said. “Especially in light of the no-visitation orders that are in place.”
Family Service League has expanded delivery of critical counseling remotely via telehealth — secure digital technology, telephone, and video conferencing methods. In the coming weeks and months, this will enhance the outreach of care and health education to thousands of clients.
“The health and safety of our clients, staff, and community members has always been of utmost importance,” Boorshtein said. “Family Service League will continue to work in partnership with community leaders and our donors to fund these critical programs. We are dedicated to maintaining our mission of service and the availability of these safety net programs for our Long Island neighbors during this challenging time.”