Church in Honesdale Will No Longer Shelter Homeless

HONESDALE -- The only shelter for the homeless in Wayne County won't be an option any longer for people who need a place to sleep.

Volunteers at the Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale say while the decision was difficult, they are determined to help the homeless in other ways.

From cots to coats, Grace Episcopal Church has all the supplies needed to shelter the homeless, but now the sign on the door reads "Shelter closed." Church leaders say the only shelter in Wayne County can no longer continue to offer people a place to stay on the coldest nights.

"I am still coming to terms with that. It's very difficult," said volunteer coordinator Sue Erb

Over the past five years, cots have been set up in the church's hall for people who need them.

"It gave me a whole different perspective of life, how at any moment, it could be you," Erb said.

Erb explained a number of factors played into the church board's decision, including a diminishing number of trained volunteers and the fact that the borough's own police department doesn't always provide overnight protection.

"Sometimes (there are) people with mental illness or there could be other situations where there was the concern we could need police help quickly," said Erb.

Volunteers are disappointed, pointing out that Wayne County's homeless are often hidden.

"A woman came in when we were doing the St. Nicholas Fair. She said she lives in a tent outside of Hawley. She and her husband and four dogs," said Joan Russo, volunteer.

"We don't have them living in boxes like they do in the city, but there are people who live in their cars, live in their vehicles," said church member Jeanne Roskoski.

Erb holds out hope the shelter may reopen in the future. She added that for now, the church will continue helping the homeless by offering warm clothing and using donations to pay for rooms at local motels.

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