FARMINGTON — Pooches and the public will benefit from a $5,000 Bangor Savings Bank Community Matters More grant awarded Friday to the Franklin County Animal Shelter.
Based on community support, the shelter at 550 Industry Road was one of only eight nonprofit organizations statewide — and the only one in Western Maine — to receive a portion of the bank foundation’s $100,000 in available donations, according to a Monday report.
“It’s a boost in spirit because these times are hard times,” Jo Rumley, shelter executive director, said late Tuesday morning. “I think it’s marvelous that Bangor Savings could present the people in this community with an in-Maine grant.”
“It’s exciting,” shelter worker Brittany Rogers added.
Not only does the shelter provide protection and help to animals temporarily placed in its care, but it also helps to adopt homeless animals into humane environments.
Additionally, Rumley said shelter staff educate the public about proper and humane care and treatment of all animals, and promote responsible pet ownership through programs and services that the shelter implements and provides.
“Some of (the $5,000) will go toward education, and also the staff wants improvements in the dog room,” Rumley said.
The shelter currently houses five adoptable dogs, three more that aren’t yet ready, and 25 to 30 cats, though she said she expects the feline population to increase significantly since it’s kitten season now.
In February, shelter staff found homes for 125 animals, and adopted out more than 700 last year, Rumley said.
That’s why winning the grant will help the shelter make a difference in the communities it serves.
Jim Conlon, president of Bangor Savings Bank, stated in the report that more than 82,000 votes were cast for more than 1,900 different nonprofits during the Community Matters More grant-making initiative.
“We were pleased to be able to conduct this effort again as in past years as part of the bank’s commitment to giving back to the community now when it is needed more than ever,” Conlon said.
The top vote-getter in each of the bank’s eight regions — Western and Northern markets, Greater Portland/Lewiston/Auburn, Central, York County, Mid-Coast, Downeast, and Greater Bangor — each received $5,000.
Another 60 nonprofit organizations like Rumford’s River Valley Healthy Community Coalition and Chisholm Ski Club, each received $1,000.
“In these challenging times when many of our neighbors and community members are struggling, these grants apply resources to some of those most urgent needs as identified by community members themselves,” Conlon said. “You voted. You mattered. We thank you.”
Rumley and Rogers both credited staff and volunteers with helping the shelter get the grant by getting ballots out to the public, and setting up electronic balloting online.
She also attributed the effort to stores that allowed them to place ballots and boxes on counters, and friends who helped print more ballots on home computers when the supplied batch ran out.
“We heard in January that we were in the running for $5,000, so we beefed up our efforts,” Rumley said.
“Brittany was very key in approaching University of Maine at Farmington staff who got behind us, and Jessie was the driving force behind ballot getting. They got the word out and it really showed.”
While the bank has yet to tell Rumley how many votes the shelter got that helped land the grant, she said she turned in 300 ballots on one day.
“It’s always good to have a little more money in the bank,” Rumley said. “Now we might be able to do smaller projects and not have to wait so long for the money.”