Despite changing state rules throughout the pandemic, Haverhill’s Community Action has been able to continue serving homeless and near-homeless residents with its Drop-In Center inside Haverhill’s Universalist Unitarian Church.
Longtime Drop-in Center Director Pat Dennehy says the early days of the pandemic created great difficulties because of the then-state limitation of serving just 10 individuals at a time.
“Usually we served about 75 people a day and we had to cut down to 10 which was difficult. The decision was basically made that I would only take in people who were actually outside, because if you’re out all night, you have to have a safe place to go. I’ve been open throughout the pandemic. They bumped us up to 25, brought us back down to 10. We had to change everything the way that we served food. Just everything had to change, but we stuck through it, and we’ve been open every day throughout the pandemic,” she says.
Dennehy, who was a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program, says it wasn’t a given the Drop-In Center would continue serving people during the pandemic, but her insistence paid off.
“I mean, to be honest with you, we could have closed, but I fought to keep me open. Community Action—I’ve been with them for 40 years, and they value everything that I say. Yeah, we fought to keep it open, and it was, but then again we did what we could to help who was on the street,” she notes.
The center is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m.-noon, via the UU Church’s rear entrance at 16 Ashland St.
This winter, Dennehy was also able to find assistance outside of Haverhill
“The Days Inn in Methuen opened up a shelter there, and it took Haverhill people this year. Last year it was pretty restricted, so I was able to get a lot of people off the streets of Haverhill, but this just came this winter. It wasn’t like last winter when all of this started, so that was a blessing to be able to get people off the streets. I’m still making referrals on a daily basis because they are going to be open, I think, through April,” Dennehy explains.
She says the homeless that are served mornings at the Community Action Drop-In Center at the Universalist Unitarian Church Church on Kenoza Avenue are also able to receive afternoon and weekend assistance at Common Ground Café, 194 Winter St., in Haverhill.
There’s more information about the Drop-In Center on the web at CommunityActionInc.org.
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