SOLON – Janice Giggey of Skowhegan is open about how she hit rock bottom on drugs, got arrested and ended up homeless.

And thanks to the New Hope Women’s Shelter, Giggey, 38, says she has been clean and sober for eight months, will soon get her 2-year-old daughter back and be living in her own place again.

“I had to leave the situation I was in and come here,” Giggey said at the shelter last week. “I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here. I’ve been clean since Nov. 11. I love the Bible studies and the prayer meetings we have here twice a day.”

Now, according to shelter director Rebecca Philpot, the shelter is expanding to accommodate a waiting list of women just like Giggey.

A new 112-foot-by-45-foot shelter is being built behind the current shelter and church on South Main Street. Volunteers, including men from the Trinity Evangelical Free Church homeless shelter in Skowhegan, and Philpot’s 17-year-old son, Jacob, will do some of the work on the single-story building.

The new shelter will have two dormitories, one for just women and the other for mothers with children.

There will be a dining room, an area for socializing, a large kitchen and plenty of showers for as many as 40 women who will stay there, Philpot said.

The concrete slab for the building was poured last week and enough construction complete to keep out snow when it starts to fall later this year, said Tim Hunt, pastor of New Hope Church Evangelical Free Church, where the shelter is located.

“This is being built all on strictly donations,” Hunt said. “It will cost $200,000 to build, give or take; probably a little more than that.”

So far, Philpot said, $50,000 has been raised to support the project.

As of last week, the existing shelter had 10 women and two children, the oldest of whom, a 10-year-old, began attending classes at nearby Solon Elementary School last week.

“We have women here from as far away as New Hampshire, but most of them are from central Maine,” Philpot said.

The shelter, which opened in January 2010, is on Route 201 about 20 minutes north of Skowhegan and 50 minutes from Waterville.

There is no maximum length of stay; some women remain for a day, others for months.

Other than children with their mothers, the youngest to stay there was 15 years old and the oldest in her 70s.

Two women have given birth while at the shelter.

Philpot said women end up homeless for a variety of reasons, but most fall into some general categories: they suffer from mental illness or other disability, drug or alcohol addiction, are victims of domestic violence or have lost their homes because of fire or income loss.

There are others that come directly from jail to the shelter.

Hunt, the church pastor, said women must attend services on Sunday morning and two nights a week, plus twice daily Bible study sessions.

He believes the shelter’s religious requirements make a big difference.

“A lot of the women, when they come here are discouraged. They’re probably a little bit afraid of what they’re getting into,” he said.

“Some of them have not gone to church much if at all, but after they’re here for sometimes just a couple of days you can see a change in their whole demeanor.”

 

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

[email protected]