OH, MA, ME Volunteers Help Maine Homes Be Safe, Warm

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CHERRYFIELD, Me — Housing Rehabilitation Program Coordinator Scott Shaw sends these field photos of three different Housing Rehabilitation Program Volunteer Groups from Ohio, Massachusetts, and Maine.

The individual volunteers arrive at the Mission’s Cherryfield Campus for two week periods, dedicating their expertise and elbow grease to help Down East Maine families live in safe, warm housing.

The First Congregational Church of South Portland group repaired a home access ramp and painted the trailer of an octogenarian homeowner who remembers at age 8 or 9 years old, around the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor, when the Sunbeam delivered Christmas presents to her Maine island home.

Every year we completely rebuild two mobile homes or houses for local families. The families contribute sweat equity to the rebuilding projects and often have one or more children active in the Mission’s EdGE program. Learn more.

Thank you to the volunteers from First Congregational Church UCC, South Portland, ME; The Federated Church UCC, Chagin Falls, OH, and Second Congregational Church of Boxford, MA.

Birthday Gifts? Seven-Year Old Gavin Asks Friends to Help Feed the Hungry

Cherryfield, ME — Photo and note from the Mission Downeast Campus Caretaker Scott Shaw:

This is Gavin Beal For his 7th birthday Gavin wanted to have his friends bring food to his party, instead of gifts, for people who did not have anything to eat! This very cool young man and his mom, Christen Beal of Cherryfield, ME came in to donate to the Mission’s Downeast Campus food pantry.

Assabet Valley Regional Tech HS Students Use Spring Break to Help Downeast

Story and photos by Housing Rehabilitation Program Coordinator Scott Shaw:

This Assabet Valley Regional Tech High School, MA housing repair group gives up their spring break to come make a difference in Downeast Maine!

Here are some photos of the volunteers bringing the kitchen of the Narraguagus Post 8 American Legion up to code. The Legion will be able to open up the kitchen for public use again after our volunteers help with the work this season.

On Saturday afternoon the volunteers attended the annual Smelt Fry and tried some local fare at the Downeast Salmon Federation in Columbia Falls, ME.

The Assabet Valley Regional Tech High School group also hosted and provided a full Easter Ham dinner with all the fixings at DETOP on Sunday!  Learn more about the Mission’s Housing Rehabilitation Program.

Housing Rehabilitation Program Coordinator Scott Shaw Visits Southern Counterparts

L-R: Alan “Benji” Benzschawel, Scott Shaw, Craig Steenkamp

I visited Biloxi to research the Back Bay Mission’s Housing Rehabilitation Program, and tour all their programs. I also took a two day jaunt to New Orleans to check out Camp Restore, another nonprofit offering volunteer opportunities. Full story and photos

The Magic of New Beginnings: One Mother’s Story About the Mission’s Housing Rehab Program

Story by Nancy Saunders
Photos by Scott Shaw

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The Maine Seacoast Mission’s housing rehabilitation program based at our Downeast Campus addresses fixes up or rebuilds twenty houses a year. Repairs and renovations range from painting to insulated mobile home skirting to new roofs. Every year we completely rebuild two mobile homes or houses for local families. The families contribute sweat equity to the rebuilding projects and often have one or more children active in the EdGE program.

Downeast Campus Director of Service Programs Wendy Harrington sent this profile, written by Nancy Saunders, of a mother and daughter who reached out to the Mission’s Housing Rehab Program — and the result. The before-and-after photos are from Housing Repair Program Coordinator Scott Shaw.

“And suddenly you know that it’s time to trust in the magic of new beginnings.” This inspiring quotation, framed and hanging in the hallway of Tara Small’s newly rehabbed mobile home, expresses the sense of marvel she and her daughter feel as they settle into their warm, safe, structurally sound, and attractive home.

The significance to Tara and her daughter of the transformation of their home can be appreciated more fully by stepping back in time less than one year. Their home had leaks in the roof, mold, decaying floor boards, dilapidated siding, little insulation, and an interior dating back to 1968. Tara says her normally outgoing daughter felt unable to invite friends to their home because of its condition.

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Tara’s home before.

Tara herself, after coping with a severe, chronic illness requiring multiple surgeries and hospitalizations from the time she was fifteen years old, as well as a difficult divorce, had all but given up. She became very depressed, tearful, unable to sleep at night nor function during the day. She says “I felt like a turtle, unable to leave my shell.”

Tara applied to the Maine Seacoast Mission’s Housing Rehab Program. This program’s efforts are based on the Housing First philosophy, which asserts that people can improve their lives (i.e, seek employment or education, and become more engaged in the community) only after they have a home that is safe, warm and dry. The Mission’s Housing Rehab Program applicants must be able to demonstrate both financial and housing need, be involved in their community, and agree to contribute 200 hours of “sweat equity”.

Tara was selected this Spring, and work began in the Summer by the many volunteers who come to the Mission for a week at a time, and donate their time and skill to the extensive rehab process. Tara and her daughter became very attached to these groups over the summer. One of them even knitted prayer shawls to match the colors of the new rooms.

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Tara’s home after.

And what colors they are! Tara’s daughter’s bedroom is painted “passionfruit pink with cupcake brown trim.” She placed her bed at an angle, and using PVC pipe, arranged the curtains to create a canopy. One of the groups made a grow stick for her wall. She provided her own decorative stickers and put her porcelain dolls on her dresser.

Tara’s room is purple, which is the awareness color of her medical condition, and it reminds her to be positive and hopeful. She has pictures of butterflies on the walls — delicate symbols of transformation, and a framed quotation which reads: “a dream is a wish the heart makes”.

Their living room is green and its theme is hunting and fishing, which both Tara and her daughter enjoy. The kitchen is blue and will feature light houses and lobster boats. The new cabinets, stove, and hanging pots and pans invite cooking and social gatherings.

The “transformation hallway” features pictures of the volunteer groups, as well as Scott and Wendy. “We will never forget any of them”, says Tara. “It is from the bottom of my heart that I say ‘thank you'”.

Learn More about the Mission’s Housing Rehab Program