WATERVILLE — Colby College senior Dana Roberts was determined to raise $10,000 for a new Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter before her upcoming graduation.

She understood only too well the need for a new facility, having volunteered at the current Ticonic Street shelter since she was a sophomore.

So in November, Roberts, 21, the director of the student-based Colby Volunteer Center, spearheaded a campaign to raise the money.

The center exceeded its $10,000 goal by more than $6,000, she said Monday.

Quick to point out that the Volunteer Center was able to do so with a lot of help from organizations both on campus and off, Roberts downplayed her part in the effort.

“About 400 individuals donated to the campaign, and 90 percent of them were $25 or less,” Roberts said. “This clearly illustrates how important small donations were to the success of the campaign and that the collective action of many can make a significant impact.”

Next month, the homeless shelter plans to start building a 40-bed shelter on Colby Circle, across the road from Waterville District Court.

Douglas Cutchin, chairman of the shelter’s capital campaign, said the total cost is expected to be between $2.95 million and $3 million.

Cutchin said officials hope to open the shelter in September.

The Colby Volunteer Center’s donation, he said, is greatly appreciated and helps to further that goal.

“It’s tremendous,” he said.

Officials have raised all but about $150,000 for the new shelter, according to Cutchin.

A local couple donated a $400,000 matching grant for a shelter endowment, which now totals $800,000. Engineering, construction and other fees will total about $1.9 million, Cutchin said.

Betty Palmer, executive director of the shelter, said Roberts not only volunteers and helped raise money for the shelter; she also has helped raise awareness about homelessness, both on and off campus.

The 16,600-square-foot shelter on about 2 acres will replace the current 18-bed shelter, housed in a 120-year-old, two-story house at 28 Ticonic St. The shelter, which serves people from Somerset, Franklin, and northern Kennebec and Waldo counties, is small, cramped and inadequate for their needs, according to shelter officials.

In addition to 40 beds, the new two-story shelter will have a program resource center, a wing for women and children, a kitchen, a dining area and a laundry room, among other features.

Cutchin, who has been involved in the homeless shelter 21 years and is former co-chairman, said a new homeless shelter has been needed for a long time.

“This is the closest thing to my heart,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, because we really needed to do this.”

The shelter not only houses homeless people; it also helps them connect with resources to receive medical help, housing and jobs.

“Our long-term aim is to get people back and functioning as full-fledged members of society,” Cutchin said.

Cutchin credited Susan Reisert, campaign vice chairwoman and a member of the shelter’s Board of Directors, as being the star fundraiser in the campaign effort.

“She’s a persistent lady,” he said. “I would not want to have tackled this without her.”

Last year, the homeless shelter and Waterville Area Homeless Action Group helped open a winter overflow shelter at the First Baptist Church at the corner of Park and Elm streets to house homeless people. The increasing number of people with no place to stay prompted the opening, according to Palmer.

She said the new shelter on Colby Circle will be able to house the overflow so that the church shelter will not be needed next year. Already, the overflow shelter, with 39 beds, seven cots and a handful of floor mats, is at capacity, Palmer said.

“We’re full,” she said. “We had people on cots this weekend because our beds are all full — just an incredible amount of people — people with part-time jobs.”

The Ticonic Street shelter costs about $387,000 a year to operate. About 55 percent of that funding comes from individuals, businesses and foundations; about 11 percent comes from special events; and around 27 percent from public assistance funds such as Maine State Housing.

Palmer said donations to the shelter campaign may be mailed to Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, P.O. Box 2612, Waterville, ME 04901, with “capital campaign” or “new shelter” noted in the memo line.

Meanwhile, advocates for the homeless on Sunday will open a warming center at 9 Water St. so people who need a place to go during the day to stay warm may find company and fellowship. The center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.