Houlton business is helping those affected by the government shutdown

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HOULTON, Maine (WAGM) - A business in downtown Houlton is coming to the aid of people affected by the government shutdown.

Kathy McCarty spoke with the owner of Wired about what he's doing to help relieve their stress.

Many people live paycheck to paycheck, including federal employees. Houlton native Jim Bell, owner of Wired, a coffee house, art gallery and conference center - located in Market Square - says he wanted to do something to help those affected by the government shutdown, so he decided to offer free lunch and coffee to do his part to help.

"I had heard from a couple of friends - one an acquaintance who, because of the shutdown is probably going to have a delay in a pension payment arrangement with the federal government, and is now worried about paying the rent - essentially paying the rent. The gentleman that has the shop next to me - his son works over at the Border Patrol office in Houlton, and while I think their family is fine, I think they have quite a number of workers there who may depend on getting a paycheck and today they're not getting a paycheck," said owner of Wired, Jim Bell.

There's not much he can do as a coffee house, but Bell says he'll do what he can.

"I'm happy to provide a free lunch for anyone who is not getting a paycheck," said Bell.

All that's asked of recipients is that they tell Bell how the shutdown is affecting them.

"The only thing I ask is tell me how the shutdown has negatively impacted you. You didn't get a paycheck, your - some paper process has been held up because there's no federal workers able to do it. Just tell us what it is and I'll provide a free lunch," said Bell.

From border agents that serve communities throughout Aroostook County and TSA agents at the Presque Isle airport, to employees processing SNAP benefits and USDA staff handling housing matters, there are many federal employees that call this home. Bell is challenging other businesses to help their neighbors by lending a hand to those impacted by the shutdown.