The Maine Seacoast Mission’s Downeast Director Dr. Melvin D. Adams, III, EdD will leave his position on August 5 to pursue the role of Dean of Student Life at Maine College of Art & Design in Portland. His role on the Mission Downeast campus, in Cherryfield, and the wider community of Washington county has been meaningful. In his time with the Mission, Dr. Adams’ built on the existing team’s strengths and empowered them with greater responsibility to live the Mission’s commitment to serving the youth, families, and communities of Washington and Hancock counties through programs that leverage individual’s strengths and deep partnerships with schools and community organizations to serve more than 900 youth, families, and seniors. The Mission Downeast team has a deep commitment and passion for those we serve; lifting their voices; and cultivating connections.
President John Zavodny praised Dr. Adams for his contributions, “Mel has been the exact leader Mission Downeast needed at this point in time. He came in during the pandemic and led the team admirably through adaptation after adaptation. Mel’s love and respect for Maine and its people is clear in everything he does, and I’m certain that he will excel in his new role.”
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Adams ensured access to youth programs and expanded programming to meet increasing demand. He also deepened partnerships with Downeast nonprofits and education institutions. By focusing on such entities, Dr. Adams contributed to building a stronger network in local communities.
Dr. Adams said, “The heart of the Mission is the people we work alongside, serve, and that become part of the Mission family. Our work is rooted in compassion for others and finding their strengths to fulfill their life goals. Maine Seacoast Mission has afforded me an opportunity to know the wonderful, resilient, hardworking, and welcoming people of the Downeast region, especially Washington County. It is these qualities that connect us to each other, our neighbors, and our communities. I’m grateful for the individuals, Mission partners, and townships that have welcomed me into their communities. I will always carry the kindness and spirit of Washington County with me.”
Dr. Adams’ leadership has better prepared the Mission to meet community members’ needs. The Mission would like to express its gratitude to Dr. Adams for his dedication and hard work, and its staff wish him the best in his endeavors.
Learn more about Mission Downeast. An announcement for the open job position will be announced soon.
Our Housing Rehab program is in full swing and has once again partnered with Downeast Community Partners (DCP) for the 2022 season. What is more exciting the recent boon of $75,000 gift our partnership received from the C.F. Adams Charitable Trust. Since 2015, DCP and the Mission, through their joint renovation and weatherization project, have improved and weatherized sixty homes in Downeast Maine. Support from the C.F. Adams Charitable Trust has underwritten the collaboration, attracting additional support from other funders. For the summer of 2022, DCP and the Mission have identified approximately fifteen homes in Washington County and the Schoodic Peninsula area to receive home repairs and/or weatherization.
Mission President John Zavodny shared, “This is an impactful and ongoing partnership between like-minded organizations. Both DCP and the Mission are dedicated to the comfort, safety, and well-being of the families in our community. Partnerships like this are often the best way to help. We are grateful to DCP, the C.F. Adams Charitable Trust, and others who support our Housing Rehabilitation program.”
DCP leverages funds from the U.S. Department of Energy and DHHS, under the auspices of the Maine Housing Weatherization Assistance Program. Homes in need of weatherization may be deferred if they need significant repairs such as a roof, wiring or plumbing. Mission volunteers make the needed improvements to each home so that DCP can then weatherize the dwelling.
The Mission’s Housing Rehabilitation Manager Scott Shaw, speaking on the need in the Downeast region, noted “our collaborative program enables Downeast families and seniors to stay in their homes and in their communities. Our volunteers provide labor, donations, and passion for working with homeowners.”
Maine’s housing stock is the eighth oldest in the nation, and the median home price in Washington County has increased to $165,000 in 2021, versus $120,000 in 2018. This rise means that many homes are unaffordable for most residents, with a county per capita income of $26,049. The cost of building materials and supplies have also risen, posting an 18% increase in 2020 and a 15% increase in 2021. “These metrics illustrate the importance of rehabilitating and weatherizing homes for our neighbors” states Rebecca Palmer, Executive Director for Downeast Community Partners. “Reducing energy expenditures and increasing the energy efficiency of dwellings is simultaneously an act of compassion for our community and our planet. We are grateful for our valued partners who join us in our mission to improve the quality of life in Downeast communities.”
“This gift enables us to continue to collaborate with Maine Seacoast Mission and thereby improve more homes than either agency could achieve separately,” says Dale Basher, Housing Services Operations Manager for DCP, “Our partnership, fostered by generous donations such as that of the C.F. Adams Charitable Trust, pairs community engagement with the latest science and technology in weatherization – it’s advantageous for everyone.”
To learn more about our community partner Downeast Community Partners, please explore their programming. DCP is committed to improving the quality of life and reducing the impact of poverty in Downeast communities.
The Mission’s Journey program is set to explore Maine with an adventurous set of summer excursions. A youth mentoring program aimed to support student college and career aspirations, Journey has six cohorts of 7th to 12th graders. Journey provides individual and family support, outdoor excursions, leadership, and experiences. Also, it gives access to professionals and community mentors, college and career exploration, preparation workshops, and help applying for scholarships.
The goal is to help them develop tools to succeed in transitioning to high school, higher education, or a career. “Career and college readiness are our two main focuses,” said Journey Program Manager Dakin Hewlett. “We work with our partner schools to recruit students into the program. The schools’ partnership and support is important to our success.” Students hail from Narraguagus Jr./Sr. High School and Cherryfield Elementary students explore the outdoors and their communities.
Ultimately, the student gets to decide to apply for Journey or not. Completing our application begins a Journey conversation with students and caregivers. Conversations, in turn, help families make informed decisions about joining us,” Dakin explained. In 2021, Journey engaged 43 students from 7th to 11th grade and conducted 557 hours of programming. In 2022, a new batch of 7th graders formed cohort 6.
“It’s not a small journey,” she continued. “It is a six-year commitment to start with us in 7th grade and stick with us through 12th grade. That is dedication. And it is another reason communicating with Journey families and schools is so important,” she said.
To help motive students to take part during the program, Journey cohort experiences are designed around student school academics and extracurricular activities. For example, these activities include cohort meetings, field trips, and overnight excursions.
Throughout a student’s six years, said Dakin, Journey staff “have individual check-ins with students, talks with student caregivers, support their individual and family needs, and help connect them with community resources.”
“We do outdoor excursions, field trips, and diverse activities is to provide opportunities for students to explore interests and envision potential future pathways,” Dakin explained. For 2022, overnight excursions for 7th through 11th Journey students include:
7th Grade – Three days in June at Acadia National Park. 8th Grade – Four days in July on Swan’s Island. 9th Grade – Four days in August at Baxter State Park. 10th Grade – Four days in July around the Portland region. 11th Grade – Visit college campus throughout the year.
Finally, each summer the Journey cohorts cap the year with a celebratory excursion. Dakin related, “You never know what’s going to ignite that spark. Maybe an outdoor hike, or walking through a museum. It might happen while camping out at the Community Center, creating art, or doing a community service project.”
To learn more, explore the Mission’s Journey web page.
CHERRYFIELD, ME – Downeast youth participating in EdGE Journey explore the outdoors and their communities to develop the tools needed to successfully transition to high school and through higher education and career pathways. Journey Program Manager Dakin Hewlett shared what’s coming up for the students’ cohorts, grades 7-12 as well as invites volunteers to serve as Adult Mentors.
Journey’s Winter Plans
This winter, students went bowling to strengthen personal relationships with one another. During winter break later this month, each cohort will go to the trampoline park in Bangor. This is a chance for cohorts to get outside, engage in some athletic activity, and of course, have fun together.
11th grade students will also participate in a series of three Healthy Acadia workshops focused on youth restorative justice practices in which individuals learn how to reestablish relationships with one another. Once students complete the workshops, we intend to provide space for them to teach what they have learned to younger cohorts. Also in March, 11th grade students will visit Husson University. They will tour the campus, learn about the school’s programs, and discover post-secondary opportunities.
Dakin adds, “Each Journey cohort participates in about two core meetings a month to further their group and individual goals, continue to build relationships with each other and staff, plan future trips, and develop leadership skills through hands-on activities. These core meetings will be the adult mentors’ most consistent monthly opportunity to engage the students.”
Cohort dinners at the Weald Bethel Community Center provide opportunities for the group to cook and share meals together, and strengthen and build community within Journey.
Calling Adult Mentors
The Mission currently seeks Adult Mentors to volunteer in the Journey program on the Cherryfield campus. Adult mentors help students build a positive, personal network amongst their peers and in the community. Adult role models also help Journey youth create the tools for a successful transition to high school, higher education, and careers.
Beginning in 7th grade, the EdGE Journey program provides Downeast students six years of mentoring with professional staff, community members, and older peers. While on local and distant adventures, Journey’s volunteer adults foster healthy relationships with students, helping them to grow and access opportunities sometimes unavailable to them. As role models, adults can demonstrate how to build life skills and establish a support network.
Interested in joining Journey? Adult Mentors show a willingness to learn, have good listening skills, and are open to cultural differences. They also exhibit patience, a sense of humor, and commitment.
To learn more, contact Journey Program Manager Dakin Hewlett at [email protected] or (207) 598-1048. To become an Adult Mentor, apply now via the Mission volunteer form.
Photos and story by Davis Maine Scholarship Director Christina Griffith.
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – The Mission’s first Davis Maine Scholar cohort just returned from a 660 mile, four-day road-trip to visit Wheaton College, Clark University, and University of New England in Massachusetts and Southern Maine. The cohort’s six scholars traveled with two mentors: Davis Maine Scholarship Director Christina Griffith, and Journey Program Director Dakin Hewlett.
Scholars enjoyed campus tours and information sessions, and time with admissions counselors learning about the application process. At lunch, college students shared stories of their studies and life on campus. Our cohort learned about support resources (i.e. academic tutoring, advising) and enjoyed conversation (and even a pizza dinner) with each college president.
From the peace of Peacock Pond on the Wheaton campus, to Clark’s extensive community service engagement in local neighborhoods, to UNE’s research and study abroad opportunities, our Scholars learned much and returned inspired. They represented well their families, schools, and Downeast communities. In the weeks ahead, Scholars will focus on completing their college applications with new focus and insight given their own lived experiences on each campus.