Winter Storm Hard On Maine’s Homeless

Rob Poindexter

Updated 2 years ago

The wintery weather is making life even tougher on Maine’s homeless.At the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville, even without a powerful winter storm, it’s a full house every night. “Every bed, every porta crib, every toddler bed, every mattress is full,” said Executive Director Betty Palmer. They average between 50 and 60 guests every night at the new Colby Circle location. As of Thursday afternoon there were 12 families and 21 children and some single adults staying there.The new shelter opened in October, taking the place of the much smaller Ticonic Street shelter which housed only about one-third the number of people as they can handle now. Despite the new and better accommodations, the need here is still greater than their resources. With no overflow shelters available in the area, winter storms, like the one walloping the state on Thursday, really tax their resources. Using all the floor mats in the house, they’ll squeeze up to 100 people, almost twice the normal capacity. “People will stay in with us all day, all night,” Palmer said. “Some people will never leave the shelter during the storms. Some will leave for short periods of time and then come back because it’s warm and safe.”But once they reach their capacity and can’t fit one more person inside, their work isn’t finished. The staff still works tirelessly to try and make sure no one is left out in the cold. When people call, they’re given a list of nearby shelters they can call in hopes that somebody might have room. “We wish we could shelter everybody who needs shelter in this area, but we can’t,” Palmer said. “We help them talk about other funding sources to get into housing. We talk about funding sources for motel rooms temporarily for the night. We talk about general assistance and other kind of public funding that might be available.”When it comes to donations, Palmer says they need everything. Paper towels, toilet paper, basically if you use it at home, the folks at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter use it and are in need.Donations are accepted Monday-thru-Friday from 9:00-4:00 or by appointment at 19 Colby Circle in Waterville.For more information give them a call at 872-8082 or visit their website http://shelterme.org/Home.aspx


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