Region's only homeless shelter closes as directors step down

Medical condition cited; shelter could be re-opened under new management
By Daniel Dunkle | Dec 11, 2012
Photo by: Bane Okholm Mid-Coast Hospitality House has closed its doors.

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 Follow him on twitter at @DanDunkle.

Comments (8)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Dec 12, 2012 09:18

"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."

And can be again. Hope that Area Interfaith Outreach Board of Directors  seriously look into where they may fit in. They have proven their mettle in the past and have an A-1 supportive team.

Posted by: Sandra Whittier | Dec 12, 2012 08:11

Thank you Samantha, Gordon and family for a job well done! Your service to this community for many years is to be commended.

Posted by: Robin Gabe | Dec 11, 2012 19:26

Interesting that this story seems to be a reiteration of a phone interview with Samantha Mank. She is quoted as saying that the board of directors resigned at the same time as the Manks. A similar story in the Bangor Daily News notes that of the three directors listed on the notice sent to the Secretary of State to dissolve the non-profit corporation, one resigned in July and another resigned last year. The BDN had not been able to contact the third director. This story may need some more digging by the press? 

Posted by: Jennie Demmons | Dec 11, 2012 18:16

I sure hope they get something going. This is terrible, especially this time of year.. Maybe we shouldn't have homeless, (BUT WE DO..) I thank God that no one in my family has ever been homeless.. Just think of the ones that have children, I feel so bad for these people, but just nothing I can do. I pray to God that these people find a warm safe place to stay..

Posted by: Amanda Brown | Dec 11, 2012 18:14

SHE SAID!  Yikes!

Posted by: robert garcia | Dec 11, 2012 18:01

It is sad that this last refuge is closing. Having said that, it seems to me that the closure was handled very poorly, without notice to service providers or MSHA, and that only raises more questions about its management. Still the years of dedication and committment on the part of those managers cannot go unrecognized. I hope we all can find a way to re-open the doors of the shelter. The former Homeless Teen Shelter opened on Christmas Eve many years ago; I remember being there that night. Wouldn't it be literally wonderful if some other Christmas Eve yet another family, like the one in our Christmas story, without a place to stay, might find a room in our community and our hearts.

Posted by: DONNA H MUNRO | Dec 11, 2012 17:34

Great article recognizing the good work that was accomplished.


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Dec 11, 2012 15:09

Area Interfaith Outreach has an A-1 board of directors, a good track record and 12 actively supportive "CAN DO" faith communities. Seems like it would be a great match and plenty for available volunteers. Am sure some have thought of this already.  

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