ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Emmaus Homeless Shelter had a VIP visit Thursday afternoon when Gov. Paul LePage stopped for a brief tour and helped deliver food for the shelter’s residents.
LePage, who recently collected food for the homeless and hungry at his official residence in Augusta, met with Sister Lucille MacDonald, administrator of the shelter, and toured the facility. The Emmaus Shelter is one of the few family-compatible shelters in Maine but has room for only 25 people.
LePage did not address the media during the half-hour visit but was expected to hold a town hall-style meeting Thursday evening at Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School.
MacDonald said after the governor left that she was grateful for the high-profile visit. She said she was glad the governor took the initiative to help collect food for needy Mainers.
“He has a good feeling for the homeless and those who are struggling,” MacDonald said. “I think he’s very touched by [homeless] families being out there.”
In addition to the food collected at the Blaine House, estimated to be several hundred pounds, the Hannaford supermarket chain donated to the shelter 50 “Helping Hands” food boxes funded by its customers. The food was taken to the shelter Thursday by the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
In addition to the Ellsworth shelter, some of the donated food from the Blaine House effort is being delivered to the Sister Mary O’Donnell Shelter in Presque Isle and to the York County Shelters Program in Alfred.
In a prepared statement released before Thursday’s visit, LePage, who for a time as a boy was homeless after he ran away from his abusive father, thanked people who donated food to the effort. He said the donated food will help many people, including those who likely will be affected by reduced funding to heating fuel assistance programs.
“These donations will mean so much,” he said. “I know, I was in their shoes once. Many Mainers are facing financial difficulties these days.”