Community Action Southold Town announced it has a new home after closing Sept. 10 on the purchase of the former Southold Opera House.
CAST credits community members’ generosity for being able to acquire the property. They had received a $300,000 grant from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council in December 2019. But they raised $2.2 million through their Build What Matters capital campaign, which is 75% of their goal. They hope to raise the remaining 25% in the next year to reach their $3 million goal.
The Main Road property the organization purchased has had various lives. First built around 1851, the main building was a Methodist church before it became the Southold Opera House in 2015. It’s located within the business center of Southold hamlet, which offers easier access to more town residents.
CAST had been hoping to purchase another former church building in Greenport Village in August 2020 but was unable to get the zoning changes needed in order to operate there, said board president Marc Sokol.
“We originally wanted to stay in Greenport but this property became available and it so perfectly matches our needs that we feel as though it’s great for us and great for the community,” he said.
They will be able to expand on the services they already offer and add more as they move into the new space. According to a press release, services to be offered in CAST’s new location will include a “larger client choice food pantry and sharing room for clothing and household items; more room for essential education programs for both children and adults; private meeting/interview spaces; a teaching kitchen for culinary and hospitality training; a community garden to grow fresh food; as well as arts and cultural programs.”
“It enables us to better meet the needs of the North Fork community, and our new space is going to be a true community resource center,” executive director Cathy Demeroto said.
CAST also announced it will be changing its name to the Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation.
“We felt that with this new phase of CAST creating its new home and new community resource center that we wanted a fresh new name that better reflects the work that we do,” Ms. Demeroto said.
CAST was founded in 1965. It has supported underserved and vulnerable populations with food, shelter, education, employment and health insecurity. Its mission is to provide a safety net and promote self-sufficiency for North Fork residents in need.
“I would say that CAST exists both to service the community and exists because of the community,” Mr. Sokol said. “It’s really the beginning of the next 50 years of growth for CAST and we’ll be able to provide even more services to our clients that are in need in this community and as well as being a community center for those who want and need the ability to come together in the kind of campus that we’re building in Southold,” he said. CAST plans to be fully operational out of their new home starting Nov. 1, according to Ms. Demeroto.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the closing was Sept. 15. It also said the church was built in 1794. That’s when the congregation was formed. We regret the errors.