FARMINGTON — The Western Maine Homeless Outreach has a new project — a matching grant challenge for the donations needed to open the first homeless shelter in Franklin County.

“For every dollar raised, another dollar will be matched — up to $5,000 — so the new homeless shelter can open before it gets colder,” Rachel Jackson Hodsdon, president of the WMHS executive board, said in a press release.

Atlantic Residential Resource of New Harbor, a Maine foundation which focuses on helping the homeless, has offered the grant opportunity.

After receiving grant approval — a chance to turn $5,000 from donations into $10,000 — WMHS began accepting funds last week, she said. The funds raised will help open the shelter.

The group hopes to raise the money by the end of November, although they are still aiming to open the shelter at Living Waters Assembly of God Church on Wilton Road by Nov. 1, she said.

“By doubling each individual’s donation, the hope is that the shelter will be able to open in November,” Jackson Hodsdon said. “It is getting too cold for families to continue to camp or sleep in their cars. Hopping from one family or friend’s home to another is just too hard on children. We need to get this shelter opened.”

Calls from people needing help continue to come in, she said Monday.

Providing a space for homeless families to stay while they rebuild their lives is the goal of a large group of pastors and community members who started meeting weekly at the church over the summer months, the Rev. Steve Bracy of Living Waters said previously.

The group plans to open a three-room, temporary homeless shelter called Western Maine Homeless Outreach.

“Living Waters will host the shelter, but it’s a community shelter,” Bracy said.

A total of $18,010 of the $29,046 startup budget has already been raised. Another $10,000 would make it possible to open the doors, she said.

Donations may be mailed to Western Maine Homeless Outreach, 547 Wilton Road, Farmington, ME 04938.

Appreciative of the support and interest from around the county, Jackson Hodsdon expressed hope that the $5,000 can be raised and donations doubled by using the matching funds in about six weeks.

“I am amazed at the outpouring the community has already provided to get this shelter opened,” she said. “I think it is because Western Maine is filled with generous people, and they understand how needed this shelter is.”

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