Internity board members helped transport the donated camper over the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge to its new home at the Ellsworth VFW. Pictured are (from left) Internity founder Ruth Moore and board members Cathy Hartigan and Chris Kravitz. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY ANNE BERLEANT

Nonprofit comes to aid of struggling veterans



ELLSWORTH — It often takes a walk in another person’s shoes to know the story behind what struggles he or she endures.

“Honestly, I never say there’s anything good about being assaulted,” military veteran Ruth Moore said. “But the recovery process has made me so much more sensitive to people who have these issues.”

Moore was assaulted by a fellow service member and then wrongfully dismissed from the military. Twenty-seven years later, she won a lawsuit, securing health benefits and a “substantial back payment” from the Veterans Administration. She used the bulk of the settlement to start Internity in 2014, “so other veterans wouldn’t have to go through what I went through,” she said. “It shouldn’t take 27 years to get help.”

So, when Ellsworth Police Sgt. Chad Wilmot called her about veteran Glenn Collind, who was experiencing homelessness in the Fletchers Landing area, Moore and the Internity board members kicked into gear.

“[Collind] was dipping here and there and staying off the radar,” Moore said. “But he had a cell phone, and Officer Wilmot gave me his number.”

Moore reached out and discovered Collind had some health challenges “and shouldn’t be outside.” She started calling local hotels and found him a room for the night. Internity covered the cost. A board member covered a second night. But that was just a bandage.

“He is a 69-year-old Vietnam vet who was never in the system,” Moore said. Collind had served eight years of active and reserve duty in the Marine Corps and is a cancer survivor but never knew he was eligible for veteran services or benefits.

Internity board members set up a donated camper to house homeless veterans in the Ellsworth VFW parking lot. Pictured (from left) are Meredith Sandstrom, Chris Kravitz, founder Ruth Moore and Cathy Hartigan.
ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY ANNE BERLEANT

It took six days from when Sgt. Wilmot first called for Moore to secure a place for Collind in the Veterans Home in Bangor.

During that time, Internity also hauled a camper from Deer Isle, donated by Paul Judkins, after his friend and Internity board member Chris Kravitz reached out to him.

“We’re like brothers,” Judkins said. “Of course, I’m a veteran, too, and I know the vets are having it hard. I’ve got a big heart for these things, I always have.”

The camper belonged to his mother-in-law, Laurieanne Higgins, who signed it over to Judkins. “I, in turn, signed it over to Internity for the homeless,” he said. “It’s a nice camper.”

The camper’s new home is in the VFW parking lot in Ellsworth, where it will serve as a seven-day emergency shelter, Moore said.

“We can literally keep a veteran’s family intact, which greatly reduces the trauma the family goes through,” Moore said, adding, “Having your family ripped away from you adds trauma.”

She said the camper will be a huge advantage in reaching out to the 14 to 24 homeless veterans in Hancock County each year. And it came to Internity in the same way the 501(c)(3) organization raises funds and services: through donations.

“We keep under the radar,” Moore said, with donations coming in through word-of-mouth and in-kind donations. “Before COVID we were leveraging about $318,000 a year in donated services from our board members.”

Internity will hold its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser and raffle on Oct. 17 at the Moore Community Center to help support its programs. These include supplying the Ellsworth Police Department and Maine State Police Troop J with 40 backpacks filled with supplies to distribute to homeless veterans. The backpacks also include information on where to find help, “and then we work quietly with the veterans,” Moore said

Moore said that since Internity’s start, it has helped 52,000 veterans get access to over $6 million in back benefits and $50 million more in future health care.

“It’s nothing for us to drive to Washington, D.C., and meet with the Washington VA,” she said.

Internity can be contacted by email at [email protected], through internityonline.org or at 619-1413.

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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