The Episcopal Diocese of Maine has awarded a $6,850 grant for the Hospitality House homeless shelter in Rockport, for the work of the Knox County Homeless Coalition in its effort of reopening the shelter.

This is the third year of the New Initiative Grant program for the Diocese of Maine, a program that awarded a total of $35,000 in grants this year for funding to support new ministries or expanding existing ministries in new directions, said Rev. Peter Jenks, rector of Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist in Thomaston.

The local Midcoast Episcopal Churches, which were cosponsors of the grant application to support their parishes’ commitment to Hospitality House, included the Church of St. John Baptist in Thomaston, St. Peter’s Church in Rockland and St. Thomas’ Church in Camden.

Recently St. John’s Church also awarded a $2,000 grant award from its outreach funds for the Hospitality House.  Both of these checks were presented to the Homeless Coalition in their efforts to reopen the shelter.

The projected annual budget for the shelter is $230,000, said Jenks.

“The Coalition is working to build a wide-based network of organizations and people in our community to meet this very important need,” he said. “Efforts are also under way in a number of local churches to raise funds in this effort.”

“Things are starting to happen,” said Jenks. Bartlett Woods Retirement Community in Rockland is donating some of its china to the shelter, he said.

Deb Turcotte, spokesperson for the Maine State Housing Authority, which in December took over the building, called the award good news.

“We own the building,” said Turcotte. “But we’re not the operator.”

Since December, the needs of homeless people in the area have been met by putting them up in motels, she said.

“We go in there to check on the building, to see there is enough oil in the tank,” she said.

Maine State Housing is still looking for an operator for the shelter, and at the moment it looks if New Hope for Women will take on that task, said Turcotte.

Kathleen Morgan, executive director of New Hope for Women and a member of the Knox County Homeless Coalition Partners said, “We’re really pleased with the Episcopal Diocese grant.”

She said New Hope has volunteered its non-profit status to help the shelter receive tax-free donations. Someone had disbanded the old one, and the process of restarting the process is slow.

“This was not a turnkey operation when we started,” she said. “We had to start all over again.

“We agreed to be the fiscal agent in the operation,” Morgan said. “New Hope does not have a goal of becoming the operator of the shelter.

“A lot of us have been working on details, such as staffing and fund-raising, and we might be a board of directors, but I think until such time as a decision is made by the board, you can call us a Steering Committee,” she said.