Merrymeeting Project Receives $7,500 Grant from Avangrid Foundation to Save Programs for Youth Facing Homelessnes

Merrymeeting Project Receives $7,500 Grant from Avangrid Foundation to Save Programs for Youth Facing Homelessness

In June 2019, Merrymeeting Project, a program providing critical services to school-age children and youth facing homelessness in Sagadahoc County, Brunswick and Harpswell, faced shut-down due to funding challenges.

Midcoast Community Alliance, a non-profit located at the Bath Youth Meetinghouse & Skatepark and dedicated to empowering the Midcoast youth community to be healthy, engaged, and resilient, took immediate action to unite with Merrymeeting Project and ensure continuation of these vital services, securing funding from generous community members, financial institutions and local organizations.

Among Merrymeeting Project supporters is United Way of Mid Coast Maine, who also helped secure a new donation from the Avangrid Foundation.

“The Avangrid Foundation, in partnership with subsidiary Central Maine Power (CMP), is pleased to provide a contribution of $7,500 from Avangrid Foundation, in support of the Merrymeeting Project,” said Nicole Licata Grant, Avangrid Foundation Director. “This grant is part of an effort to support organizations taking on unmet needs in Maine, particularly with at-risk youth.”

“In addition to United Way’s direct funding of the Merrymeeting Project, we are so pleased to be the avenue for this funding from the Avangrid Foundation,” said Barbara Reinertsen, United Way’s executive director. “It’s so important for our community to support youth who are homeless and facing many challenges.  United Way is grateful for the people at Midcoast Community Alliance who stepped up and are making a profound difference in young people’s lives every day, making brighter futures possible.”

“We are grateful for the support of Avangrid Foundation, United Way of Mid Coast Maine, and all who answered the call to show youth facing homelessness that they are seen and that they matter,” shared Jamie Dorr, Executive Director and founder of Midcoast Community Alliance.

“The funding not only saved Merrymeeting Project but has provided new opportunities to meet and build relationships with students, even before services are needed, further strengthening the support system around our most vulnerable youth.”

Funding of this project provides critical, direct outreach services to 40-50 students each year. Additionally, Merrymeeting Project serves approximately 200-250 homeless students and families indirectly (those who do not require long-term, on-going support services).

As students access support services, they benefit from much-needed stability in shelter, food, school, transportation, healthcare, and having a caring adult advocate to turn to. Connecting to this level of support allows youth to gain a sense of control over their circumstances and provides the space to focus on education.

“CMP and AVANGRID, Inc., its parent company, have a long legacy of investing in our communities in order to make lasting change for our customers and neighbors. Avangrid Foundation is proud to continue that tradition,” said Grant.

Since 2002, Donna Verhoeven, long-time Merrymeeting Project Youth Outreach Coordinator, has played a vital role in supporting students. Donna has worked directly with youth to increase their school attendance and help stabilize their school and community life, including assisting them with access to food, medical and mental health care, school supplies, clothing, and shelter. She has also been instrumental in helping these youth navigate complex systems to obtain healthcare, food benefits, housing, college, and employment. She is a steadfast advocate for youth and their federally protected rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Protection Act. Donna can be reached at (207) 751-5738 or donna@mcamaine.org

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