MADISON, Maine — A homeless shelter that provides services across four counties was surprised with a $50,000 gift which the shelter’s director hopes will trigger more donations toward a $2.4 million fundraising goal.
The Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter announced this week it has received a $50,000 gift from Campbell’s Agway True Value. About $10,000 of the total is meant to bolster the shelter’s operating budget immediately while the rest is to be used as a challenge grant to attract more donations.
“This was a total surprise,” said Mike Marston, the shelter’s director. “When they approached us I had to do a double take. We’re just overwhelmed.”
The 20-year-old homeless shelter serves families and individuals from Kennebec, Franklin, Somerset and Waldo counties. In addition to providing a bed and meals, the shelter offers programs designed to help people support themselves as independent members of the community.
In recent years the 18-bed shelter has been full virtually nonstop, which has led to up to 70 families and individuals a month being forced to stay in hotel rooms, taken to other shelters or turned away.
The $50,000 donation is the largest in the shelter’s history, said Marston. Brent Burger, a partner in Campbell’s Agway True Value, said in a press release that strong performance by the chain’s stores made the donation possible.
“The terrific reputation of the shelter and the outstanding service of its team make this giving opportunity a real privilege,” said Burger. “The possibility of this gift is testament to our store associates and our customers. Without their continued support of our business we would not be able to give back to our communities in such a substantial way.”
In addition to four Agway and True Value stores in Madison, Winslow, Farmingdale and Skowhegan, Campbell’s also owns Just Ask Rental, Campbell’s Building Supply and Val-U-Energy.
The Campbell’s stores are collecting donations from customers to add to the $50,000 donation. The homeless shelter’s board of directors also will make an effort to match the funding given by the chain of stores.
Jill Gilbert, the shelter board’s president, said an increase in demand for the shelter’s services have led to the need for financial help both now and in the future. The board has been discussing the construction of a new 40-bed structure but estimates that will cost $2.4 million.
“We have been working on these plans for some time,” said Gilbert. “We feel we are getting closer to a final push, perhaps in 2011, when using Campbell’s challenge will help us realize $80,000 toward the project through their match.”
“We are becoming more and more confident that the new building will happen, and Campbell’s gift only moves us closer to meeting the need,” said Marston. “We are so grateful.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating goods or making monetary contributions to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter may call 872-8082.