Martha’s House renovations moving along, spring opening planned

by Geoff Fox

The renovations to what will become Interfaith Service Coalition’s Martha’s House – a community youth center for Hancock — are moving along and an April ribbon cutting is planned to take place.

Renovations are going very well at the future home of Martha’s House, said ISC Director Debbie Cohill.

There have been a few obstacles along the way requiring change orders, but Cohill said things are “still moving along.”

Cohill said the organization had received a grant for $31,000 to cover expenses for things like food, operating costs, and other costs for the first year. Cohill wasn’t sure if she could say who the funder was yet.

Cohill said it’s hard to get funding for a pilot program and people want to see if it succeeds.

Contractors from Eagle Construction work on renovating the inside of 47-49 West Main Street, the future home of Interfaith Service Coalition’s Martha’s House.

She said there are also things lining up partnerships with other organizations to do things with Martha’s House.

To date though, Cohill said, “we have received $187,000 in grant funds towards the renovation costs.”

ISC is also opening a second-hand furniture store directly across from Martha’s House and is named to reflect the connection with Martha’s House.

Cohill said the future Martha’s Treasures would be opening soon It will be located across the street from Martha’s House.

“The proceeds from the store will help fund Martha’s House,” Cohill said.

The furniture store, hasn’t been able to open due to some heating issues.

However, there have been some shoppers looking at, and buying, the furniture.

“We just have to go down and unlock [the store],” Cohill said.

There has been “tremendous community support,” Cohill said.

“I am thrilled with the number of local individuals who want to help in some way with Martha’s House,” she said.

Councilmen Leo Murray and Tim Boyer offered the use of the community gym for the kids once Martha’s House is open, a local fisherman offered to conduct a fishing clinic, Fred Salimi, owner of Park n’ Dine, is going to teach a cooking class, and local fire and rescue departments will be involved as well, Cohill said.

“These are just a few example of how people are reaching out to us,” she said.

Cohill also welcomes anyone with ideas or wants to participate “in any way” to contact her.

“Interfaith wants our building to be used as much as possible to benefit the young people in our community,” she said.

Cohill said Eagle Construction, the same company who built the new library, is currently doing the inside construction and renovation of the building.

Cohill also said there are new windows to be installed for the apartments above the new space. The windows, she said, would make the apartments more energy efficient.

The concept for Martha’s House has been in the works since 2015 when former ISC board member Suzanne Edwards and her husband Phil donated the building located at 47-49 West Main Street to ISC.

Cohill said going through the grant process takes time and it is important to potential funders there is evidence of community and local government support.

The process began under former Mayor Dan Murphy and continued with Mayor Ralph Salvagno.

“We owe both of these gentlemen and Town Manager Dave Smith a lot of gratitude for their support in that regard,” Cohill said.