CHERRYFIELD, Maine — The Ark, an 80-acre, multibuilding animal shelter, is the Down East winner in the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation’s Community Matters More program.
With nearly 82,000 votes cast by the people of Maine, The Ark was the top vote-getter in the Down East category and will receive $5,000.
The foundation is donating $100,000 to 68 nonprofit organizations throughout the state.
The Ark provides shelter services for abandoned or surrendered cats and dogs, helps with food and veterinary care in emergency situations, operates an aggressive “Find a Family” program, and is a no-kill shelter.
The Ark also operates a thrift shop in Blue Hill to help support its work.
A quick tour of the Cherryfield campus includes a visit to the cat rooms, immaculate multiple-cat spaces where cats are separated by age and diet; and the dog room, where little dogs have crates but are allowed to run freely when they are not outside in sunny runs. Bigger dogs are housed separately in large, cozy kennels.
Toys, food dishes and comfy beds are everywhere.
The Ark has six employees and a group of volunteers.
“To maintain all our services costs $20,000 a month,” Tom Leigh of Deer Isle said Thursday. Leigh, who serves on The Ark’s board of directors, said that without bequests from estates, the shelter could not operate.
He said the board and the staff are thrilled at the prize.
“It certainly speaks well to how The Ark is perceived and supported,” Leigh said.
The shelter was founded in 1984 and can take a maximum of 90 cats and 15 dogs, he said. “Any money coming into The Ark is important and can be used in any one of a hundred ways.”
He said one of The Ark’s most important programs is “Stitch In Time,” which helps pet owners neuter and spay their pets. Some of the funding will go toward that program, Leigh said, but added the board of directors would be meeting later Thursday to make the determination.
“We are an organization in a place that really needs us,” he said, adding that he thanked everyone who voted for The Ark.
Other $5,000 winners were Maine Children Cancer Program, Habitat for Humanity of Waldo County, Stone Soup Food Pantry, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kennebec Valley, Penobscot Valley Humane Society, Franklin County Animal Shelter and Acadia Hospital Youth Suicide Program.
Other nonprofit agencies around the state were given $1,000 awards. For a full list of winners statewide, visit: https://www.bangor.com/CommunityMattersMore.aspx.