Region's only homeless shelter closes as directors step downMedical condition cited; shelter could be re-opened under new management
Rockport — Samantha Mank said nearly 14 years of providing shelter and meals for the Midcoast's homeless has been very rewarding, but she and her husband are now stepping down from that work.
Mid-Coast Hospitality House officially closed Nov. 27, she said in a phone interview Dec. 11. She and her husband, Gordon Mank Jr., managed the shelter from 1999 until its closure.
Mank, who also works as general assistance director for the City of Rockland, said she has stepped down due to a medical condition.
Mid-Coast Hospitality House was established in 1989 and has functioned as a nonprofit corporation supported by local churches and community members. Its board of directors have resigned along with the management, Mank said. The corporation dissolved Nov. 27, according to the Secretary of State's office.
She said the 15-bed shelter did not close until alternative placement had been found for every person living there. No one was kicked out, she confirmed. In fact, she said residents were never told the shelter was closing or that they had to leave. Instead, the shelter had stopped taking in new residents and found alternative housing for its existing residents before closing, she said.
Two families found permanent housing, she said.
The building is now empty and all of the utilities have been shut off, she said. The Maine State Housing Authority was expected to send someone to take possession of the property Dec. 10, which had been owned by the nonprofit corporation, according to Mank.
Hospitality House was the only shelter serving not only Knox County, but also Waldo, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, she said.
It was often full, sometimes taking in more than 15 when mothers with small children would share a bed, she said.
Mank said a new organization could form to re-open the shelter under new management. The shelter was not in debt, but it will cost the new management to get the utilities hooked up again.
In the tax year ending in March 2011, the shelter provided housing for 236 individuals, according to tax forms the shelter filed with the state. It served nearly 10,000 meals in that year.
The shelter had $122,059 in revenue that year and $165,631 in expenses and ended the year with net assets of $298,839, according to the tax form.
Mank said she would be willing to sit down and talk with any new management restarting the shelter to provide information about the paperwork and operation.
During the years that her family ran the shelter, she said they were on-call from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. every night and morning in addition to the work that needed to be done during business hours including meetings with the Maine State Housing Authority. It was a full-time job for two people who already had other jobs, she acknowledged.
"I love the work," she said. "I love the people."
She said it was very rewarding to be able to help people who were in crises.
"There's that brief moment when you tell someone to just breathe and then you work through the problem," she said.
She said she can no longer devote so many hours to the work.
Gordon Mank Jr. is from Rockland originally. Samantha Mank is from Kansas, she said. They met when they were serving as U.S. Marines and later came back to Maine.
She said it was important to note this was not a two-person effort. Throughout the history of Hospitality House it has been a community effort supported by local churches and service organizations.
News Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter at @DanDunkle.