Calvary United Methodist Church at 59 Sabattus St. in Lewiston, seen Monday, is being proposed for an overnight warming shelter. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The City Council will hold a special meeting Monday to amend the funding it will provide to the Lewiston warming center project at Calvary United Methodist Church after Lewiston officials chose a different organization to run the center.

On Tuesday, the Lewiston City Council selected the nonprofit Kaydenz Kitchen to run the warming center at the church on Sabattus Street, a day after the Auburn City Council voted to fund a proposal from the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine.

Auburn initially approved providing $89,306 toward the IRC proposal, a number based on previous negotiations with Lewiston officials, who were slated to fund the remaining $98,223 — for a total of $187,529.

However, Lewiston officials largely supported the Kaydenz Kitchen proposal because of its smaller budget of $125,200, as well as lingering concerns over how the center was run last year.

According to the agenda for Auburn’s special meeting, the Auburn council plans to vote to amend its funding to $62,500 “to cover no more than 50% of actual third-party expenses paid by the city of Lewiston to the operator of the 2024 Lewiston Auburn Warming Center.”

While Auburn has yet to approve the change, Fatuma Hussein, executive director of the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine, said her organization notified both cities Friday afternoon that it has withdrawn its participation in the warming center project.


The IRC ran last year’s warming center at the church along with Community Concepts. While it succeeded in keeping people out of the winter cold, the project was met with harsh criticism from several fronts over its impact to the neighborhood.

Hussein told officials in both cities this week that her organization was better prepared to handle the issues this year, but Lewiston officials were swayed by the proposal from Kevin Boilard, who runs the Kaydenz Kitchen food pantry.

Boilard said he met with Auburn city administration Friday morning, where they talked about questions and concerns with his proposal. He said it’s been a “challenging” few days after the Lewiston council meeting, where he has felt his organization has “had to validate our position in wanting to do something valuable for the community.”

“We’re optimistic and genuinely believe we have the best proposal on the table,” he said.

If Auburn approves the amended funding breakdown Monday, Boilard said the warming center would open Tuesday. It would operate nightly from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. until April 9.

Reached earlier Friday, Hussein said her organization facilitated the warming center idea by working with the church and both cities to get discussions rolling.


“We initiated all of it,” she said.

On Tuesday, Hussein was defensive of the group’s effort last year, stating it was a learning curve, but that no one else stepped up to run it.

“It took us a little bit to wet our feet and get there,” she said.

However, the Kaydenz Kitchen proposal argued that last year’s program “created a significant amount of community concerns around how these types of programs operate.” The proposal for this year includes a constant police presence.

Several people shared concerns Tuesday for seeing a repeat of last year, including the number of police calls. Others backed the IRC proposal simply because it would have seen the warming center open a week earlier.

Bill Reed, a member of the church board of trustees, said the last few days have been confusing for the church. He said rumors have swirled since Tuesday, including that both organizations have claimed to have secured the lease from the church. But, they haven’t, he said.


He said since then, the Calvary board has told city officials that they will work with whichever organization the cities choose.

“We made it clear we’re not picking winners and losers, we’re here to serve the homeless,” he said, adding that the past week has been frustrating “because there’s still people on the street when this could’ve been settled this week.”

But, he said, he’s trying to stay positive. Especially after Lewiston councilors signaled this week that a winter warming center and perhaps more permanent solutions will be a larger priority moving forward.

“I know it looks like a mess right now, but it’s all good news that these two cities are working together,” he said.

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