ROCKLAND — Through an unofficial side comment during Rockland’s October 7 City Council agenda-setting meeting, organizers of a potential nighttime winter emergency homeless shelter were given a green light to use the Flanagan Community Center.
Aside from gaining permission to use the city-owned, YMCA-managed property, this year’s potential opening – December 1 to April 4 – is contingent on raising a minimum of $70,000 by October 31.
Whitney Files and Jeanne Denny provided the Rockland City Council with an update on their emergency shelter effort, speaking of their current wait for responses to multiple grant applications totaling $50,000.
As a way of boosting those potential grant approvals, Mayor Lisa Westkaemper said: “We could probably give it sort of a stamp of approval from the city side as well – that you can put it in your back pocket and take it forward for grant applications saying you have the agreement in place.”
Files, chief operating officer at the Knox County Homeless Coalition, and Denny, crisis social worker for St. Brendan the Navigator Church, approached the council in August with their request to use the Flanagan Center as a nighttime-only shelter, from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. (8 a.m. being the dismissal time for the homeless so that Coalition staff can clean before 9 a.m.)
At that time, they spoke of providing a light supper and breakfast, possibly at a separate warming center, to the occupants. Those occupants would sleep on mats laid out by yet-to-be hired Coalition employees. In the morning, prior to the YMCA opening for the day, the occupants would be provided with the resources (i.e. transportation) needed to help them to their next steps.
Since that August meeting, they’ve conducted three information sessions in Camden, Rockport and Rockland.
“So far everyone who has attended has been very supportive,” said Files. However, “if we don’t raise sufficient funds by the end of this month, we are considering postponing to next year. We just don’t want to move forward with kicking off this pilot unless we are really ready with the funding and the staffing and all those things in place. We want it to be a really good test of concept.”
Jeanne Denny, MSW
Social Worker for St. Brendan the Navigator
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to: Emergency Shelter Pilot, PO Box 1255, Rockland, ME, 04841. Checks should be payable to “Knox County Homeless Coalition” and note: “Emergency Shelter Pilot Fund” on the memo line so that they will be assigned appropriately.
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