April 23, 2018
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Rockland’s cardboard village to highlight homelessness

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
Melissa Harvill discusses the effort to educate the public about the plight of the homeless in the Rockland area while standing next to the fledgling cardboard village being erected at Chapman Park in downtown Rockland.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A group that hopes to bring attention to the plight of the homeless will live in a cardboard village in the center of Rockland over the weekend.

The cardboard homes were being erected early Friday afternoon at Chapman Park at the busy intersection of Park and Main streets.

The project is being undertaken by the Christ’s Lighthouse Ministries, a Christian-based nonprofit organization that was formed in the fall by Leland Philbrick of South Thomaston.

“We know there are a lot of people who would like to turn a blind eye to the homeless problem,” said Melissa Harvill of Washington, who was overseeing the construction of the cardboard shelters.

She noted government is tapped out of money and that other resources are needed.

“We believe God has called the church to help and we are stepping up,” Harvill said.

The people who will stay in the cardboard village during the 48 hours starting Friday will not have any food with them. Harvill said each person will have a backpack. They will visit the soup kitchen by walking to it and carrying their backpacks as the homeless would have to do, she said. The occupants of the cardboard village will rely on the kindness of others for their food, Harvill added.

Harvill hopes that both the general public will stop by and speak to the residents of the village over the weekend about the needs of the homeless and what can be done. She said she also hopes that people who are homeless will stop by and share their stories and offer suggestions on how to deal with the problem.

Longer-term plans are to create a directory for where people who are homeless can get information on where there is assistance, she said.

The ultimate goal, Harvill said, is for the ministry to acquire or build a shelter where the homeless can learn trades so they can have the skills to get jobs and find a home.

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