FARMINGTON — The Western Maine Homeless Shelter, the first in Franklin County, opened Monday at the Living Waters Assembly of God Church.

Two families, mothers and children, were staying Monday night, Chuck Ellis, spokesman for the volunteer Western Maine Homeless Outreach, said. There’s already a long waiting list.

For some people that’s evidence that the shelter is necessary, he said.

Over the summer a group of volunteers from churches and the community wanted to establish a homeless shelter and were prepared to “do what it takes,” he said.

A total of 16 beds, including those for children of all ages, are available, Ellis said. 

Housed at the church at 547 Wilton Road, the shelter offers beds in three large rooms in the basement, along with kitchen facilities, bathrooms, a laundry room and play room. For now, it’s only for women and children with an emphasis on women with children, he said.

It is a temporary night shelter. Occupants can enter at 4:30 p.m. and leave the next morning by 8:30 a.m., he said. Children are expected to attend school while the parent works with their case manager on seeking employment or whatever can help them pull their lives together.

Those needing help must call the shelter at 779-7609 and go through an intake process. Availability is based on need, Ellis said. Some members of the executive committee will answer or make a call back when a message is left.

Two overnight employees have been hired. During the night, a paid employee and a volunteer will be at the shelter. Clients can prepare their own meals and use the facilities. A second shower is being added to the laundry room, Stanley Howard, a member of Living Waters and a shelter volunteer, said.

Volunteers are needed, especially in the early morning from 6 to 8:30 a.m., Emily Chaney, volunteer coordinator, said.

The group has received enough donations to meet a $5,000 match before the end of November, Ellis said. The donor is anonymous, he added.

More donations could help provide for a sprinkler system. To add more beds, the system needs to be installed, he said. 

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

A donation drive for hygiene products will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12. Justine Plourde of Wilton, a University of Maine at Augusta student, is holding the drive as a school project, she said Monday. 

Hygiene products of all sizes, especially sample sizes of soaps, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products and deodorants, can be dropped off during that time. People can also see the shelter, she said. 

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