Code Purple site opens at St. Jude the Apostle Church

Lewes temporary homeless shelter location moves from old Troop 7 building
December 2, 2022

Story Location:
Coastal Highway
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

Never underestimate what one man on a mission can accomplish, especially when he has a vibrant, community-oriented church behind him.

A Code Purple emergency shelter site for the homeless has opened at St. Jude the Apostle Parish Life Center off Route 1 near Lewes.

And it's thanks to the efforts of church member Mike Agnew, who retired to the area last year.

The shelter for 14 men opened Dec. 1 and will be open nightly from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. through March 15. Six volunteers to man the shelter are needed each night.

For the past two years, the site has been located at the vacated Delaware State Police Troop 7 building on Route 1 near Lewes.

The site is secured

Agnew put the wheels in motion to open the site after volunteering for Code Purple in Lewes and Georgetown last winter. It was obvious to him that a new site was needed in the Lewes area. “The old Troop 7 was not a good building,” he said.

Over the summer, he approached Code Purple organizers and was told there was no solution to fixing the issues in the building.

“So I started talking with Father Brian Lewis and the site at the church was eventually approved. The effort was helped by an inspiring homily he did for the program,” Agnew said.

Agnew said he had no trouble getting a planning team in place and already has 40% of the nightly volunteers signed up. Three training sessions for volunteers have taken place.

St. Jude members have established a food and clothing ministry for the shelter with assistance from members of Bethel United Methodist Church.

Along the way, he said, there have been some obstacles to overcome, including bus service. Agnew said the only stop was at the Lewes Park and Ride, which meant those coming to the shelter would have to cross Route 1 on their own at night.

He sent an email to Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who was able to arrange the lease of a DART paratransit bus for the St. Jude site.

In mid-December, the Community Resource Center in Rehoboth Beach opens its day program from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., when the homeless can get meals, do laundry, get a shower and also receive support services, counseling and bus passes. Funding for the center comes from the Lewes-Rehoboth Association of Churches.

Agnew said there is a four-hour gap between the time the center closes and when the St. Jude site opens. “We are working on that,” he said.

Code Purple in the county

Code Purple Sussex County’s six sites are administered by Love INC (In the Name of Christ) of Mid-Delmarva, based in Seaford. Other shelters are in Milford, Georgetown and Seaford. Some are available for women and children. Last year, more than 275 homeless people slept each night at the shelters across the county.

Contact information for Code Purple:

To reserve a bed, call 302-629-7050 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 302-519-0024 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends (that number is also an emergency hotline).

To reach the office, call 302-956-6006, Ext. 302.

The website is

The connection call center number is 302-629-7050.

Donations are needed

Donations to stock the shelters are needed and can be dropped off at the following area locations: Boulevard Ford-Mercury, 18443 Coastal Highway, Lewes; Dry Zone, 16507 Beach Highway, Ellendale; County Bank, 100 E. Masten Circle, Milford, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday; Downes Insurance, 1049 N. Walnut St., Milford, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Among the donations needed are coffee, Ramen noodle cups, snack packs, sports bars, bottled water, Pop Tarts, fruit cups, plastic ware, to-go containers, coffee cups, sheets, toiletries, paper towels, detergent, first-aid items, cleaning supplies, long underwear, T-shirts, socks, gloves, backpacks and DART bus cards. See a complete list at


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