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Homeless shelter opens in Skowhegan

11:53 PM, Jan 22, 2012   |    comments
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SKOWHEGAN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For many, it's hard to find the money to pay the bills -- let alone find the money to donate to a good cause.

But a Skowhegan man wouldn't take the down economy as an excuse, and found a way to collect $130 thousand, and the building materials to open a new homeless shelter in Someset County.

Pastor Richard Barry had been letting the homeless stay at his church, the Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Skowhegan.

He wanted to build a real shelter for them, but knew it would be tough to raise the money locally.

"The Federal Government can't afford to feed us, they're broke. The state's broke. Town's broke," said Barry.

So he went somewhere else: to the west coast.

He'd preach, give a speech, and ask for donations in churches throughout California, Washington state -- and spread the word.

Slowly he raised $130 thousand, and people and businesses started offering ways to help.

One business donated a refridgerator off of the showroom floor.

A man in Pennsylvania made the trip to Maine to tile the floors at no charge.

Three years later, the shelter is up and running.

And even the operating costs are reduced.

Wood pellets heat the building, using donated wood.

The residents are also the staff, cleaning and performing maintenance in exchange for room and board.

"We stay warm through donations, we stay fed through donations," said resident Luke Adams.

"Donations, donations, donations -- this building is one big donation," he said.

Pastor Barry said his goal is to help other organizations use his model and open shelters throughout New England.

"It can be done. If we can do it here in Skowhegan, it can be done anywhere."

NEWS CENTER

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