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Community opens new warming center in Bangor to help those experiencing homelessness

"The homeless problem in Bangor is worse than anything I've ever seen," one unhoused person said.

BANGOR, Maine — As homelessness is a major concern in many communities across the state, two volunteers in Bangor opened a new place for people to stay warm.

Mel Coombs and Larry Keezer have been helping Bangor's homeless population for more than a decade through their street ministry, Jericho Road.

Their desire to help those experiencing homelessness started with the pair delivering sandwiches and water to people who were unhoused. Now, they've opened a daytime warming center, "The Well," behind the River Church on Center Street in Bangor.

"I always wanted to help people and help people who are in need," Keezer said.

The warming center offers medical staff, social workers, and even a shower and place to do laundry. Before checking in, people are screened for any weapons, needles, or drugs.

"The homeless problem in Bangor is worse than anything I've ever seen," Joshua Hacker, an unhoused person, said.

Hacker has been in the Bangor area since early September. He moved to Bangor from Nebraska, and when his plans fell through, it left him without a home.

"A lot of people have some serious misconceptions about homelessness," Hacker said.

In November, the city leadership made an effort to work through Bangor's 11 homeless encampments and connect people to housing before the winter. But, there are still some Mainers with no place to call home.

"It can happen to anyone. And it's not just because a matter of bad choices or addiction," Hacker said.

"I used to be one of those people that when I went across the bridge and I saw someone with a backpack or I saw someone struggling I tend to look the other way," Coombs said. "But now what I see is that it's somebody's child, somebody's grandmother, somebody's son or daughter."

The Well is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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