HOULTON — When Lorraine Monfils planned the first community cleanup day for the Ark Animal Shelter, she hoped for a little good press that would lead to some positive attention.
But what the group got the day the story appeared in Tuesday’s Bangor Daily News were numerous phone calls and e-mails with offers of donations and volunteer help — and a new building.
“The next morning the story came out at 10 a.m., this couple walked in the front door and said, ‘We have a building,’” Monfils said Wednesday afternoon. “I was worried it would be a dive, but I sent my husband down to look at it and he called and said, ‘Hon, we have a new building.’”
The group, which has been rescuing and fostering stray and neglected animals for about a year, has been planning to open a no-kill animal shelter, and over the weekend they held a cleanup day at the 35-acre parcel where they hope to house the sanctuary. A local resident gave the group an “awesome deal” on the parcel, Monfils said.
On Sunday about 20 volunteers worked to clear brush and trash from the lot, which already has a well and septic system where the donated cottage can be situated.
“All we have to do is move it,” Monfils said. “We already have some feelers out there.”
The donated building is a one-bedroom camp with new windows, a new furnace, wiring, insulation and a wood stove, Monfils said. It now is on a lot owned by Arey Golding on Timoney Lake, about 30 miles from the sanctuary location.
Eventually the group hopes to have someone living in the cottage at the sanctuary.
Monfils also heard this week from a woman in Milford who contacted her by e-mail offering to drive up in two weeks with four friends to help out on the next community cleanup day.
“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” she said. “People are coming in and it’s all positive and good.”
People also are offering to assist with grant writing to fund the sanctuary and offering to make outright donations.
“One woman called from Blue Hill and said she did not do the Internet,” Monfils said. “So I gave her my mailing address and she’s sending a donation.”
Monfils admits to being a bit taken aback by the reaction.
“I figured we’d get a phone call or two after the story came out,” she said. “I am so impressed by everyone’s generosity.”
In addition to providing a safe space for homeless cats and dogs, Monfils said, the group also would provide space for large animals such as horses and goats.
“We are all just really, really excited,” she said.
Information on available animals for adoption or making a donation is on the group’s website at www.arksanctuary.com. Donations may be mailed c/o Lorraine Monfils, 70 Main St., Houlton 04730.