CHERRYFIELD, Maine — A Cherryfield church is seeking help to renovate a house that would be available as a temporary shelter for people who are displaced from their home because of a disaster.
First Congregational Church held one meeting about the Lamb House project — named after the last family that occupied the home — and will hold another meeting later this month.
The house is located next to the church, overlooking the Narraguagus River, and the buildings share a driveway. The church purchased the house when it became available two years ago.
“It was bought for a community purpose,” Peter Duston, church member and project organizer, said Wednesday.
A church member financed the purchase.
The home would be used as a temporary shelter for people displaced because of a house fire or other catastrophe. Another example would be if a house is temporarily uninhabitable in the winter because of frozen pipes or a heating system on the fritz.
The church has been asked in the past to help out families in these kind of circumstances.
“We’re already doing this,” Duston said.
The church’s mission is to help people in need, he said.
“It’s happening all the time,” Duston said, noting a recent apartment fire in Millinocket that displaced 16 people.
The church also has been a supporter and partner of the Maine Sea Coast Mission, allowing the house and church to be used to feed and house youth groups and work crews that help in the mission’s summer home repair program.
“We already doing that,” Duston said. “This seemed to be a natural extension of that mission.”
The house was built in 1840 but is sound. The two-story residence has six bedrooms, including four that are immediately usable. The church already has most of the furnishings — donated appliances and furniture — ready to be moved in.
“The house is in pretty good shape overall,” Duston said, despite needing some renovations.
The kitchen essentially has been gutted and will be converted into a bathroom and utility room, and an existing dining room will be transformed into a new kitchen. Cabinets have been donated for the new kitchen and are stored in the dining room, waiting to be installed. The house also needs repairs to some plumbing and to the furnace.
The work will cost an estimated $20,000. Organizers have only raised a few hundred dollars so far, but they have commitments or interest from people who are willing to donate labor or materials.
The goal is to have the work done by the end of the summer of 2015, but church members are hoping it may be completed by the beginning of the summer, Duston said.
Organizers will hold a second meeting at the church 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15. The main purpose of the meetings, Duston explained, is to create an independent organization that will oversee the project.
“We don’t want this to be just a church project,” he said, adding that the congregation is “determined to support it.”
But the church is relatively small, with only about 35 to 40 members, and largely is made up of senior citizens. The Lamb House project is a “major undertaking,” Duston said.
The initial meeting on Sept. 15 went well, he reported, though he was disappointed about the low attendance of only 10 people.
“I think we hammered out some further details on how to proceed,” Duston said. The group identified people who may be interested in supporting the project and is in the process of contacting them.
“We’re encouraged,” Duston said. “We not discouraged, because we really believe in this project. … It’s sorely needed.”
People who are interested in supporting the project may contact Duston by calling 546-7559.
“This is an appeal to people of good will,” Duston said.