FAMILIES FIRST COMMUNITY CENTER
Serving Homeless Families with Children in Hancock County
 
                                                    www.familiesfirstellsworth.org
 
 

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Our mission is to break the cycle of homelessness by equipping families with minor children with the skills they need to gain self-sufficiency.

STORIES OF HOMELESSNESS

Children in the Dark

Read the Story of Ashley:  Only twenty-two years old, with three children born to her, she was living in a homeless shelter in the state of Maine.  Her mother died when she was not yet a teenager of a serious disease that Ashley nursed her through.  She then had to take care of her younger brothers and sisters.  Her father eventually re-married, but neither her father, nor step-mother, was a good role-model.  Her first child was born of incest.  The little child is now turning five and about to enter kindergarten and a sweeter, more well-behaved child you have never seen.  However, she has some learning disabilities and Ashley has been unable to get help for her.  Her second child died in her crib when she was an infant.  The third has some developmental delays, but again, is very sweet and friendly.  Ashley wanted to get her HiSet and worked hard towards it while Shelter Staff made sure she made it to classes.  Just as she was graduating, she had a lot to look forward to:  she was accepted into a prestegious volunteer program in a center specifically designed to help with the disease her mom had died of.  She was also working with local referrals in her area to take a "transitional course" to enter college in the fall and she was working to decide on her major:  something in health-care.  And then, everything came crashing down upon her young head.  She obtained a housing voucher that did not allow Shelther Staff to keep in touch with her after she left.  She went to a small apartment in a semi-perilous part of town.  She kept it neat as a pin.  The youngest slept in her bedroom and the older child had her own room.  However, Ashley could not drive.  She had no idea what to do with the small amount of money she received per month for her child's disability, when her father does not take it from her.  Many other "life-skills" as well as referrals to essential services that she needed evaded her.  She could no longer volunteer, nor go on with her schooling.  Our prediction is that she will live in a subsidized apartment with a housing voucher for the rest of her life and never realize her full potential.  Her children will not get the help that she cannot afford or does not know how to find.  Her only form of transportation is her father and step-mother who are frankly, dangerous.  If she cannot volunteer, she will lose her food stamps.  Her father and step-mother have always been semi-homeless, and are now completely homeless.  We can only hope that her children will not be.  This is called generational poverty and homelessness and it is very prevalent in Maine, as well as other rural places.   A transitional home could help Ashley so much.

“Amanda” is 23 years old and has a six-year old son, “Aiden”.  She grew up with severely alcoholic parents.  She started drinking herself in Junior High School.  She stopped when she found out she was expecting a baby when she was 17 years old.  She was kicked out of her parent’s home for becoming pregnant.  She was able to finish high school before the baby was born and secure Section 8 housing.  She has been in minimum wage jobs ever since.  Recently, a friend of hers became homeless, and, feeling empathy for the girl, she let her stay with her with the understanding that it would be for a very short time.  Her friend was not looking for an apartment, however, though it was past the time that Amanda had given her to stay there.  For this reason, Amanda asked her to leave.  The friend then informed Section 8 of Amanda’s transgression in letting someone stay in a Section 8 apartment with her (this is not allowed).  Amanda therefore lost her Section 8 voucher.  Without rental assistance, Amanda struggled to pay her rent.  She soon became behind, and was evicted.  By the time her landlord took her to court, she had paid him everything that she had owed.  However, since she had been late in making her payments, he still did not want to rent to her.  This left she and her son homeless in February of 2016.  Amanda then fell off the wagon for an entire month and had just sought help for sobriety support, when, once again, her “friend” enters the picture and calls DHHS.  Aiden was removed from her custody and she did everything that was mandated to get him back.  She was cooperative with the Department and very proactive in her participation in services.  She asked for treatment in the family drug court and has adhered to all its stipulations.  She is willing to do everything to achieve the long-term sobriety that she once had.  She is dreaming of having her son return to a safe, healthy, loving, sober and capable parent.  However, her son is having difficulties in foster care resulting in the Department’s efforts to escalate his return to Amanda.  He is in a therapeutic foster home, but the change is difficult for him.  His emotions and behavior are not what one would like to see.  Since his mom is the one that knows best the tools to deal with him, including patience, a calm demeanor, a routine discipline approach and a consistent reward program that helps him to monitor his own emotions and deal with them in a non-destructive manner.  Though the foster parents are nice and have also been taught these skills, she is best equipped to handle him.  Amanda feels extremely guilty that her son is in this situation as a result of her behavior.  While working hard at all this, she has continued to work, but has no place to call home.  She is still homeless.  She does not want to look at her young son and tell him that he cannot come home as she has not been able to find stable housing for the two of them.  She needs the life-skills training, parenting skills and sobriety help that a Transitional Home would give her.

“Michael” grew up in the 70s.  He grew up with an undiagnosed mental illness.  Both his father and mother suffered similarly.  As he came into his teen years, he began using drugs and alcohol to combat something that he did not realize he had.  His parents were divorced and he lived with his mother and step-father.  His step-father was very abusive.  When he was 17, he went to live with his single father, thinking his life would be better.  His father, however was also very abusive.  He dropped out of high school with only three months left and wandered the country.  In another state, he obtained his GED and even started college, but dropped out after less than a semester.  He came back to Maine and was celebrating his 21st birthday with some friends when he got himself in a lot of trouble.  Drunk and looking for more alcohol, his friends and he went into a camp that they knew would have alcohol.  This of course landed him in jail.  When he got out, he got himself a steady job and settled down and married.  His wife and he had five children.  He would work during the day and watch the children at night while his wife went out partying.  These were the best years of his life.  However, he would often break his probation whenever he tried to get through a period of his mental illness with drinking or drugs.  When his wife divorced him for another man, he was again in jail.  He was ordered to pay child support and worked hard and never missed a payment.  However, whenever he went back to jail, he was unable to pay and became behind.  His solution was to work more hours at minimum wage jobs.  Eventually, he could not afford his apartment, because of back-child support, so he gave it up and lived in a tent.  When that still was not enough, he stopped eating.  He was at a very unhealthy point when a friend helped him get a coveted spot in a local homeless shelter.  He eventually was given a rental voucher but it did nothing for his mental illness.  Fortunately, through his church, he met a woman who acted as his parents never did.  She was a retired social worker and helped him get the diagnosis that he had never realized he needed.  With help from a charity hospital, he went to a psychiatrist that helped him a lot.  However, he did not stick to help for his mental illness as he could not continue to receive support from the hospital indefinitely.  To this day, he works for his church, doing odd jobs intermittently, lives alone on his rental voucher and has very little income.  He cannot pay child support though he still has one minor child.  He is not living a full life at all.  Though he did get some help that he needed throughout his life, he is in need of the life-skills classes and medical referrals and help that he could have received from a Transitional Home.

“Brittany” is 24 years old and makes barely $110 a week at her job.  Her husband and her recently divorced.  They have a three-year old son and a six-month old son.  She and her children are essentially homeless and are currently sleeping in her father-in-law’s living room.  Her father-in-law has a small living space and would like them to move out as soon as possible.  Brittany has no job skills or a way to make more money for herself and her children.  She needs the life-skills training that a Transitional Home would give her, as well as the help to transition to a housed situation.

“Emily” lost her parents to drug overdoses when she was only thirteen years old.  She moved in with her elderly aunt and uncle, but they had passed away before she was able to finish high school.  She tried to live with an older brother so that she could finish school, but he was 21 years old, always partying and bringing friends home.  It was a difficult situation for her.  One day, her brother brought home a friend that became her boyfriend and she jumped at the chance to move in with him and get out of the “party house” that she lived in.  She, luckily, finished high school, but soon after became pregnant.  Everything was going as well as could be expected, living with this man, and she was even able to begin college.  However, she found out, while pregnant, that he had a warrant out for his arrest.  He is currently in jail.  She is now 20 years old with a 1 ½ year old son and ended up in a homeless shelter.  She had started attending college again and was doing well, when she became involved with another, older, man who was also homeless.  He also had a young child.  While she had been alone, she had been a very good mother, but with this man, she started drinking to excess and having parties every night.  Her child was no longer being looked after and was removed by DHHS.  She needs the life-skills to make it on her own as well as the confidence to live her life alone when she has to.  She also needs alcohol and drug counseling so she will not follow in her parents’ footsteps.  Transitional Housing will help with all of this.