The end of March marked the close of the 2021-22 HIHI respite program. The Huntington Interfaith Homeless Initiative has offered homeless individuals in Huntington a safe, warm place to spend the night during the winter months for nearly 20 years. From December 1st to March 31st, more than 35 local congregations provide housing, clothing, breakfast, lunch, and dinner to participants in collaboration with the Family Service League (FSL).
As in the past, TBE volunteers this year rose to the occasion and jumped right in despite personal challenges, stormy weather, and ongoing COVID-19 concerns. More than 15 families and individuals generously prepared bagged meals, with sandwiches, soft drinks, fruit, and healthy snacks, to drop off at a central location on Wednesdays. Some folks even took on more than one week or changed dates at the last minute when asked; thank you so much for your flexibility and generosity! A special shout out to Randee Epstein for stepping up whenever needed.
We shared our Wednesdays with our two dedicated temple partners: Huntington Jewish Center and East Northport Jewish Center. Many thanks to them and their enthusiastic congregations for their invaluable help and support. Due to COVID-19 again this year, no in-person hosting of meals was allowed. Unfortunately, many of the men have health issues exacerbated by their time spent outside in the cold; they also missed the personal contact our volunteers have offered in the past. Nonetheless, guests were very grateful to know that they were still being cared for and supplied with so much good food and other necessary items from their local neighbors.
In addition, donated gift cards gave the men an opportunity to warm up and buy hot coffee or snacks at area restaurants and delis. Thanks to many generous donations, we were also able to provide, coats, boots, assorted clothing, toiletries, soup and linens, in addition to the meals and gift cards.
As FSL said: “We could not close out HIHI without extending our heartfelt gratitude to all of you who made this challenging season possible.” For our TBE volunteers, I echo that sentiment and thank everyone who contributed in any way to this important effort. While you enjoy the warm weather, please continue to think of those less fortunate and contact the Social Action Committee’s Carol Werblin at email@example.com to see how you can help.