The Impact of Maureen’s Haven on the Homeless

Homelessness is rarely a choice, and it certainly isn’t a situation one would expect to be in. But in 2021, over 7,300 individuals signed into the Day Center at Maureen’s Haven Homeless Outreach Center in Riverhead, which assists homeless individuals across the East End. 

“Many of the homeless in our community do not present as you would think. They tend to blend in. They are living in cars or in wooden areas outside of plain sight,” Daniel O’Shea, the executive director of Maureen’s Haven explained. “Those who utilize Maureen’s Haven have access to gently used clothes and donated coats. They often have new boots and backpacks donated by supporters. Many of them even work and simply can’t find or afford a place to live, especially on the East End.”

The main initiative of Maureen’s Haven is to ensure those in need are able to access critical support services. These services include one-on-one case management, access to a Social Worker, access to the winter shelter, and basic life essentials. While these services are important, it’s the daily efforts that make the biggest change in people’s lives — secure housing, mental health, or substance abuse programs, finding and securing jobs, and getting proper IDs. Each acts as a stepping stone to get to where an individual needs and out of homelessness.

“Maureen’s Haven makes sure that every one of our guests receives case management and social services. They are also given the support and tools needed to build a better life for themselves. By providing these services we are also keeping these individuals safe from the hardships of living on the streets. This helps to transform our communities,” Russell Blue, the chairman of the board of Maureen’s Haven said.  

Individuals arrive at Maureen’s Haven by referral, whether through a concerned citizen, a family member, or law enforcement, but many also come on their own.

“Many people refuse services and have every right to live the way they choose. But if Maureen’s Haven can reach out those these people, at least they know they have a trusted and caring team dedicated to helping them move out of homelessness,” O’Shea explained of the roughly 35 to 40 percent of guests who are women, and 35 to 40 percent of guests that are 55 years old and above.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic caused the organization to adapt to the changing needs of the homeless — such as greater street outreach and a weekend lunch program — while it remained fully operational. As the rest of the world shut down, Maureen’s Haven remained a beacon of uninterrupted hope, while adhering to guidelines. Altogether, they were able to provide vaccinations to over 200 vulnerable individuals across over 20 vaccination sites without a single guest, staff, or volunteer becoming seriously ill.

However, while mandates have dropped, they’re still handling the fallout from the past two years and the weight of additional hardships many have faced. In 2021, 325 homeless individuals struggling with stable housing directly received supportive services. Meanwhile, the 2021-2022 Emergency Winter Shelter Program, a life-saving program that begins November 1 and runs seven days a week for six months, provided 6,400 beds, an increase from the 4,700 beds in the previous 2020-2021 season. Now, as they adapt to these rising challenges to assist the community, they are gearing up for the 2022-2023 season.

What makes this organization stand out is community support — no one is in their situation alone. The community comes together through all walks of life, and various organizations — congregations, youth groups, civic associations, businesses, and individuals — as they gather to support the mission. Homelessness may effect the few, but it is in the hearts of the many to reverse it, one act of kindness at a time.

“Together, we cook meals, serve dinners, set up evening sleeping quarters (needed every day of the week from November through April), and create a nurturing warm environment for our guests. Volunteers are also always needed to teach life skills to our guests at our Riverhead Day Center. It’s all such a generous way to give back to our community,” Sara Blue, the board director of Maureen’s Haven, explained of the opportunities available to make a difference in the community. 

Maureen’s Haven celebrated 20 years of community service during summer of 2022. What began as the Emergency Winter Shelter Program expanded to a full-service, year-round agency and the only day center in Eastern Suffolk County. “Our organization has evolved into a very special and unique multi-service resource for those less fortunate. We serve our homeless population all year round with dignity, respect, and compassion while providing a safe haven for them,” Blue said.  

Call Maureen’s Haven at 631-727-6831 or visit to volunteer or donate.

Nicole Teitler

Nicole Teitler is an award-winning journalist from Long Island, better known professionally as Nikki On The Daily™. She has reported for numerous publications but is mostly remembered by her work for Hamptons based publication, The Independent Newspaper. In addition to her love of writing, Nicole is an animal rescue and wildlife advocate. In her spare time, she can be found guzzling coffee, hiking, or trying new restaurants. Follow @nikkionthedaily /

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