PO Box 240 ~ Nyack, NY 10960 | Information: 845-709-2415 

Helping Hands had its beginnings in November, 2004, when Rev. Angela Boatright, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, called a meeting to combat homelessness in the county.  A homeless man named Roy who was in attendance described the miserable living conditions in which he and other homeless people were living on the streets of Spring Valley and Nanuet.

In response, students of the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, led by their teacher, Raoul Cansino, organized a “run” to distribute food, clothing, blankets and other necessities to Roy and thirteen homeless neighbors.  Roy dubbed the project “Helping Hands.”  A second run reached over thirty homeless individuals, some of them without even a blanket to protect them from the frigid January weather. 

Our experience convinced Helping Hands, now including many adult volunteers, that we needed to do more than pass out supplies.  Adopting a model that had proven effective in neighboring counties, we asked local homes of worship to open their doors to people seeking protection from the cold.  On January 20, 2005, we had our first night of safe haven in the Saidyyah Qadiriyyah (Felicity) Mosque in Spring Valley.

In 2009 we opened our Outreach Center, dedicated to the memory of co-founder Thomas A. McCabe.  With the assistance of our professional staff in the Outreach Center, many of our guests found employment or permanent housing, giving us the inspiration to carry on with our mission to serve the homeless.  In 2017 Helping Hands took over the administration of the Rockland Interfaith Breakfast Program, which serves a cooked, nutritionally balanced breakfast and a bag lunch to all who come to us.

 The safe haven program expanded to over twenty-five participating houses of worship, but the need became so great that many of the smaller sites could no longer accommodate the number of homeless persons seeking shelter.  After many years of advocacy by Helping Hands, the County of Rockland opened the Warming Center in Pomona in November 2017, providing overnight shelter during the six coldest months of the year.  Helping Hands was awarded the initial contract to operate the shelter, but in 2018 the contract was awarded to Catholic Charities.

 In 2019, United Church of Spring Valley, which hosted our Outreach Center, clothing closet, showers and laundry, was sold to the Church of the Nazarene.  The Outreach operation was asked to move out to make room for a child care program, but the breakfast program continues to operate there every weekday.

 Helping Hands is in the process of reorganizing.  With the assistance of a small grant from the Department of Social Services, we are begining  street outreach to the homeless which include the operation of a drop-in center in Spring Valley, a mobile unit that will visit encampments, transportation to showers at the Stony Point Conference Center (when reopened), and delivery of food and toiletries to those in need.

Future Initiatives

A Former Safe Haven Guest At Work