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$300K grant to help CAST relocate to new, permanent location in Greenport

A lack of space at its current location on Front Street in Greenport prompted Community Action Southold Town to find a new home in the village — and this time, it might be permanent.

The nonprofit received a $300,000 reimbursement grant from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council in December 2019 to purchase the former Methodist Church on Main Street in Greenport. 

The 5,600-square-foot building, owned by local builder James Olinkiewicz, would be used to construct a community center, CAST executive director Cathy Demeroto said Monday. There, the nonprofit would host client-support programs, all educational programs and the food pantry.

However, the grant doesn’t cover the total cost of the estimated $1.5–1.8 million project, which includes renovations, furniture and equipment, Ms. Demeroto said. CAST plans to launch a new “Build What Matters” capital campaign in early March, spearheaded by CAST co-chairs Stephanie McEvily and Anne Howard, to secure funds for the rest of the project.

Ideally, Ms. Demeroto said, CAST would move into the facility in December 2020 — after they receive approval from the Greenport Village Board, Planning and Zoning boards, and Historic Preservation Commission. The facility will likely be open by March 2021, she said.

Founded in 1965, CAST has never had a permanent residence, Ms. Demeroto said.

“Every few years, CAST has had to find a new building to rent and move, which is inconvenient,” she said. “Once we move into this building, we will no longer be renting another building. Our dream is for it to be our permanent home.”

Tess Wonderling of Aquebogue said the expansion will help people from every aspect of life.

“I know that when I came here from Florida as a single mother [in 2016], they really just made me feel like a person, and they didn’t make me feel bad about coming to them for help,” Ms. Wonderling said. “They’re just such a great program, and the only program, that offers that kind of assistance here.”

Ms. Demeroto said the move is a “huge step” for CAST, since they’ve outgrown their current 1,200-square-foot space — one that has left staff feeling “crammed.”

“This will enable us to really do much better job of meeting the needs of vulnerable populations on the North Fork,” Ms. Demeroto said, “and … providing more programs that give them opportunity to become self-sufficient, which will benefit everybody in the community. A community thrives when all members are doing well.”

Last month CAST unveiled its new mobile food pantry called CAST on wheels that will allow volunteers to bring food directly to those in need who may otherwise be unable to secure transportation.