Capital campaign will help build and fund new shelter
Breaking Ground, Rebuilding Lives is the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter’s (MMHS) effort to raise $2.75 million, which will build a new shelter to house 40 residents.
Though the current building opened as a shelter in 1990, the structure itself is about 120 years old and only has room enough for 18 residents. Currently, in the winters, when the homeless cannot camp or stay in cars without risking death, the Shelter opens an overflow location in the First Baptist Church to provide, at minimum, a roof and some warmth during the harsh Maine nights. “In the summer, you’re not going to die. In the winter, you could,” Reverend Susan Reisert, a member of the MMHS board of directors and vice-chair of the capital campaign, said. The $2.75 million figure will build this new shelter and provide two-years worth of funds for programming to help get the residents back on their feet and to prevent those on the brink of homelessness from going over the edge.
“One-third of the new shelter is homeless prevention to help people that are on the edge rebuild their lives before it is totally gone,” Betty Palmer, director of the MMHS, said. “People are beginning to hear through the grapevine and through other social agencies that you don’t need to be in the Shelter to get help from the Shelter, and we can be one of those places where you stop and figure it out,” she said.
Reisert said that they’ve had their sights set on building a new shelter for a long time now, but they began the fundraising efforts only a couple of years ago as the economy slowly recovered from the recession, and awareness of homelessness had increased—and people’s attitudes toward it have changed.
Through two years of hard work in her first-ever fundraising effort, Reisert was able to state that the campaign is already three-quarters of the way to its goal. She attributes the success to the incredible support that Waterville and Maine residents have shown and said that they have been very receptive to the campaign.
“We’re hoping to break ground really soon,” Reisert said. Both she and Palmer hope that the new space and the support they will be able to expand upon and provide will help keep their residents from “ever dealing with homelessness again.”
Reisert first approached the students on the staff of Colby Volunteer Center (CVC), asking them to get involved. Originally, they said they’d try to raise $100 for the campaign to build a new homeless shelter in Waterville, but then they thought they could raise $500. The number grew and grew, and now the CVC has set their goal to raise $10,000 toward the Breaking Ground, Rebuilding Lives campaign.
Director of the CVC Dana Roberts ’12 and Assistant Directors Madison Lois ’13, Amanda Lavigueur ’13 and Josh Balk ’14 have been working tirelessly all semester planning programming for fundraising and homelessness awareness education for the month of November.
They have extended their reach across campus, recruiting student clubs and campus organizations into their efforts. They’ve received support from local businesses downtown as well.
Through an anti-dorm vandalism campaign, the CVC is urging students “don’t break our home; build another.” For every dollar by which the campus reduces its dorm damage total for the month of November as compared with the month of October, the College will match with a donation, up to $4,000.
The CVC staff hope that they can find a donor to match what students raise in November. “I think that finding someone to validate the student effort would mean so much to the student population. As students, our pockets may not be so deep,” Roberts said, but she hopes to prove what the College can do for the community ,“and having [additional] support would just mean so much.”
With $10,000, Colby would be able to list its name on a plaque in the new Shelter, which will be located on Colby Circle—the original site of the College before it moved to Mayflower Hill.
“That land that used to enrich their mind is going to enrich our fellow citizens to help them get their feet back underneath them,” Roberts said. Donors can give online at https://www.wepay.com/donate/27851.