ROCKLAND — The Community Emergency Shelter Committee has decided to postpone its proposed pilot program until December 2020, according to the committee, in a news release. The pilot will assist community members experiencing homelessness by providing a safe, warm place to sleep during the cold, winter months.
Rockland City Council and the PenBay YMCA recently approved the use of the Flanagan Community Center on Limerock Street for this pilot.
According to the committee, its decision to postpone was a difficult one, as the pilot project has received considerable support throughout the community, including the Knox County Homeless Coalition, the PenBay YMCA, the City of Rockland, the Rockland Police Department, faith-based organizations, and community leaders. Recent publicity about the project has also led to an increase in donations and interest in volunteering.
“We are fortunate to live in such a wonderful, supportive community – the response so far from individuals and partner organizations has been incredibly encouraging,” said committee member Rev. Peter Jenks, of The Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist in Thomaston. “We can’t thank everyone enough.”
The two primary reasons for postponing the project are that the Committee has not yet met their fundraising or volunteer recruitment goals. As of October 30, the Committee has raised over $30,000 of a $70,000 goal to fund primarily staffing expenses, as well as services and materials needed to launch the project. More than just a place to sleep, the shelter will be a point of entry for community members to receive additional services from area agencies. While certain grant requests are still pending, the Committee lacks the minimal resources needed to plan and launch a safe, thoughtful program this winter.
Despite the delay, the Committee remains firmly committed to the original goal: to pilot a four month temporary, emergency shelter during the cold winter months. All funds received this year will be applied to next year’s pilot, with permission from the donors.
“We know that there is considerable need in the community for this service, as we see families and individuals come forward each week requesting shelter and support” said committee member Rev. Wendy Anderson of Nativity Lutheran Church in Rockport. “We are not giving up on this project, just setting realistic expectations to plan for 2020.”
The Committee will focus the next nine months on fundraising and recruiting volunteers, as well as fine-tuning protocols for the operations of the shelter. Interested community members are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about volunteering.
Checks can be mailed to:
Emergency Shelter Pilot, PO Box 1255, Rockland, ME, 04841, payable to “Knox County Homeless Coalition” and note: “Emergency Shelter Pilot Fund.” KCHC is acting as the fiscal sponsor for this pilot.
A GoFundMe Charity page has also been set up – visit https://charity.gofundme.com/emergencyshelterpilot to make a secure, tax-deductible credit card contribution.