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New Shelter Addresses Homelessness in Central Maine 

There’s some relief on the way for an overcrowded homeless shelter in Central Maine. The Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville has eighteen beds. Staffers there say between twenty and forty people are being turned away each night. On Monday, volunteers from the Waterville Area Homeless Action Group moved beds into the First Baptist Church on Park Street. The hope is to get at least twenty beds into the church to help with the overflow at the shelter. “Everyday we turn away 20 to 40 persons. It doesn’t hold the need of this community,” says Betty Palmer. Palmer is the interim director of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, who says one of the biggest challenges will be to run the Church Shelter without much money. “We do need to staff overflow housing with volunteers. Some people think that’s a pie in the sky vision, but I know we can do it. the community will pull together.” Palmer is looking for 60 to 80 volunteers to help with night staffing throughout the season. While the First Baptist Church is not part of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter Palmer says some of her staff will be working at the church to get things started. Palmer plans to open the First Baptist shelter December 1. The shelter will remain open through April. “The challenge was to find a place in the community where affordably we could place people over the extreme cold months,” Palmer says. Resources will also be offered at the new shelter to help people get employment, housing, and accommodate health needs. “If they’ve been disconnected from a doctor or dentist then we’ll connect them to those services.” Donations of everyday essentials, including soap, towels, bedding and children’s toys are being accepted. Twin mattresses and boxsprings are also needed. An anonymous donor has come forward with a challenge. Palmer says three-thousand dollars will be donated if the community can match the gift. The money will go toward paying heating fuel. Currently, the temperature in the church basement is set on 55 degrees according to Palmer. Palmer would like to be able to maintain the heat at 65 degrees while guests are there. “Six-thousand dollars worth of fuel is all we’ll need for the whole winter,” Palmer says. “This isn’t just a place to provide a dry, safe, warm place in the winter, but to provide support to get a new start.”For more information on how you can help visit www.shelterme.org or call the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter at 872-8082.