By Mara Certic
The first hint of cooling temperatures and shorter days have many preparing for the holiday season, but for the volunteers and organizers at Maureen’s Haven, the prospect of the mercury plummeting reminds them that their busiest time of year is right around the corner.
For the past seven years, Maureen’s Haven has partnered with houses of worship and fraternal organizations to help the East End’s homeless find somewhere warm to sleep from November until the beginning of April.
“Homelessness is a way of life for some people. We’ll never be able to fix that,” said Prudence Carabine, who has been involved in Maureen’s Haven since its creation. “That is not the main thrust for me. For me, the main thrust is to to get them through the winter. It’s so they don’t freeze,” she said. “Nobody deserves to freeze.”
County officials have estimated there to be around 100 homeless people in each of the five East End towns, although they are often unseen on the East End of the island, Ms. Carabine said.
Ms. Carabine described the East Hampton branch of the organization as the town’s “biggest volunteer army,” which helps house and feed homeless people on Friday and Saturday nights, as part of a larger program that stretches from Montauk to Orient Point.
The East Hampton Veterans of Foreign Wars donate a van that ferries people to the centers on cold evenings, and residents of the town serve as “innkeepers” to help prepare food and stay overnight at the churches with guests. The group is “always looking for volunteers,” Ms. Carabine said. They need no qualifications other than they must be comfortable, tolerant and able to demonstrate a sense of calm and peacefulness, she said.
The East Hampton Methodist Church, Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church and the Jewish Center of the Hamptons are the three local houses of worship that take people in for the night—and the ones that end up paying the extra heating, custodial and other incidental bills that come with overnight guests. “And some of those places are really struggling themselves, and Maureen’s Haven is their big mission,” Ms. Carabine said.
In order to keep the churches and synagogue able to help, the fourth annual auction for Maureen’s Haven will be held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 25.
The cover charge for the auction is just one pair of new, clean, warm socks, to be handed out to homeless guests throughout the winter. “The feet suffer terribly when you’re homeless,” Ms. Carabine said.
For the price of just two socks, guests will be able to bid on both live and silent auction prizes, which include dinners, weekends away and other local services. New this year, Ms. Carabine said, will be the opportunity to bid on a lunch with three of the local religious leaders to learn more about their philosophies of faith.
For those unable to bid on the high-ticket items, there will also be a food table at the auction, where pies and cakes and other tasty treats will be available for purchase— “which means you can walk out with a cake or a pie for $20, and still make a difference,” Ms. Carabine said.
“I believe that when there’s life, there’s hope,” Ms. Carabine said. Through her years working with Maureen’s Haven, she’s learned it is simply impossible to save everyone, she said. “But we can at least keep them alive through the night.”
The auction will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 25, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 18 James Lane in East Hampton. For more information about Maureen’s Haven, visit maureenshaven.org or call (631) 727-6831.