Skowhegan Shelter 

Last year, more than 7000 people found shelter at the 42 homeless shelters in Maine, but none of those folks stayed in Somerset County… because there was no shelter there.Then the Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Skowhegan opened its doors to the homeless. Nearly 20 people are housed there now, but the church has become more than just a roof over their heads, it’s become a second chance.”I used to be a drug dealer.” “I had a really bad drinking problem.” “I came here from the Kennebec County Jail.” They each have a different story with one similarity, they’re trying to turn their lives around.”I’ve been sober now since May 16th.” When Bret got out of jail, he had no place to go. So he came to the Trinity Evangelical Free Church.”We didn’t set out to start a homeless shelter.”Social workers donate their time offering counseling and career services.Things that helped Mike change his ways.”It felt good to have someone who cared.”Mike is studying to become a pastor and Brett is enrolled at UMA with a goal to become a substance abuse counselor.Jack Weeks, the former drug dealer is back on track too. After being homeless, today he owns his own home and is the church’s shelter director.”You’ve got guys that had their house burn down, divorces, getting out of jail. We’ll take guys under house arrest. We are very careful that though no one with sexual offenses because we do have children here on the weekends.”It all started last year when pastor Richard Berry took in one man. Word spread, and now the church houses 17 men.”Everybody now sees them as a burden if they’re homeless, but there’s no real burden if nobody’s helping them.”But with room running out, and the town code enforcement officer taking notice, both men are praying for a new building.”We need materials to build with and we’re trying to do everything without money.” Donations have helped get the foundation in, but the goal is to have a 24 bed house up by winter.Because Berry says it’s men like this who can be helped if given a second chance.