Plans Underway to Assume Operation of the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark
BATH—Midcoast Community Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is pleased to announce that it will soon enter negotiations with the City of Bath to purchase the building currently housing MCA at the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark. Once an old armory, the building at 4 Old Brunswick Road (near Congress Avenue) has become a teen and youth community center, while also providing a place for teens and adults to skateboard, bike and scooter.
The community center being developed by MCA currently serves 70 to 90 teens and tweens after school each day, and provides snacks, homework help, games and hands-on activities, youth guidance and mentoring, along with hot meals in the evening. Some kids who frequent the center would otherwise be at home alone—some right throughout the dinner hour—while others might find themselves engaged in less healthy activities. MCA is also now home to the Merrymeeting Homeless Youth Project and Youth Outreach Coordinator Donna Verhoeven, who provides critical support each year to upwards of 50 homeless school-age children and unaccompanied youth in Sagadahoc County, Brunswick & Harpswell.
MCA executive director, Jamie Dorr, says that MCA is in desperate need of a larger and different kind of space. “In the past year, our teen center attendance has doubled as we meet the needs of the youth community. We are bursting at the seams, and we’re just getting started,” Dorr said. “Substantial building and safety improvements need to be made to better serve youth and our community. We have quite a dream taking shape for this space, which has become a lifeline for many kids and families. But we need more freedom to expand and improve what we are offering.”
MCA helps kids and families navigate community services for everything from finding warm winter clothes to seeking mental health services or assistance with getting students through high school and beyond.
The City and MCA have discussed July 1 as a potential date for MCA to assume all operations for the skatepark, which has been run since 2008 by the City of Bath’s Recreation Department. The skatepark is a viable business that can generate income for MCA and is also a Merrymeeting Adult Education HiSET learning site. Young adults, wishing to advance their education, are benefiting from the dovetailing of services offered in the building.
“One organization managing both the skatepark and the teen center will bring efficiencies that will allow us to better serve both skaters and youth in the long run,” said Dorr.
MCA’s board of trustees has submitted an official letter of interest to City Manager Peter Owen. Numbers have not yet been part of the conversation. “The City is excited about the positive influence MCA is having in the community and the outstanding successes Jamie has brought to the organization,” Owen said.
The 2019 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey data indicated that 35.7% of high school students felt sad or hopeless for two continuous weeks or more, 19.3% had considered suicide and 9.6% had attempted suicide. 22% had engaged in non-suicidal self-injury. A similar trend was seen in middle school. MCA’s key focus is to provide students with the hope and support that is needed to avert a suicidal crisis.
“We have helped students find success in school and after school; we have helped families find support for mental health and addiction. We’ve already accomplished a lot, but there is so much more to do,” Dorr said.
The youth center is currently benefiting from critical partnerships with other area nonprofits, such as the Bath Area Backpack program (providing food for kids to eat on site, or to take home), Bath Elks Lodge #934 (providing toiletries for kids in need), NAMI Maine (Mental Health First Aid training), the Bath Police Department, Mid Coast Hospital, and Sweetser Mental Health, to name a few.
See the enclosed sheet for more information on the services provided by MCA along with various recognition and awards. Most recently, Jamie Dorr was named the New England Patriots Difference Maker of the Year and was awarded a $20,000 grant for the nonprofit.
Contact Jamie Dorr for more information at 443-6856
Current Programs and Offerings
- Merrymeeting Homeless Youth Project – supporting at-risk, homeless and unaccompanied (without parent or guardian) youth in MSAD75, RSU1 and Brunswick. Youth Outreach Coordinator in schools twice weekly and at the teen center in the afterschool hours.
- Programs for Food Insecurity: daily snacks and take-home food provided by Bath Area Backpack Program, meals from community members provided through a Meal Train, toiletries offered by Bath Elks 934
- Wraparound Student Services: a group of educators, MCA staff, community organizations wrapping around a student and family who is facing challenges to empower and support them in a variety of ways.
- On-going mentoring by caring adults trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid: Community members, local high school and college student volunteers, volunteers from national guard, Mid Coast Hospital, local school faculty and social workers
- Mental health resource information: provided to families and community; training provided by NAMI Maine and Center for Community Health & Wellness, Mid Coast Hospital.
- Youth Leadership: providing students the opportunity to take ownership through leadership roles and decision-making responsibilities within the organization.
- Afterschool Wellness Activities: free scooter & skate club, fitness activities, pool, yoga, ping pong, fitness games that keep kids active; art classes, cooking classes, music studio, piano, visits with therapy dogs, youth development activities.
- Connecting Students to Community Resources: Basketball at Bath Rec, Swimming at Bath Area Family Y, Laser Tag at Patten Free Library.
- Experiential Activities: Building skateboards at Grain Surf Shop in York, visits to Tree Street Youth Center, Community Bike Center in Biddeford
- HiSET assistance (high school equivalency) in partnership with Merrymeeting Adult Education; classes now offered at the skatepark, taught by local educator and long-time skateboarder.
- Academic Improvement Programs: daily tutoring by volunteers and RSU1 faculty, hands-on science experiments,
- Set for Success Program: providing free backpacks and school supplies to all students living in RSU1.
Awards & Recognitions
MCA and founder Jamie Dorr have been acknowledged with:
- 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Bath YMCA
- 2017 Community Builder award from United Way,
- 2017 Caring About Lives Award from the Maine CDC
- 2017 Citizen of the Year Bath, Maine
- 2017 Portland Press Herald’s 10 Mainers We are Thankful For
- 2017 Spirit of America Foundation award from the Sagadahoc County Commissioners
- 2018 Paul Harris Award from the Bath Sunrise Rotary
- 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award from Maine Parks & Recreation Association
- 2018 Community Project Award City of Bath for Set for Success
- 2018 20 Outstanding Women in Maine from Coast 93.1
- 2018 Humanitarian Award Maine Chiefs of Police Association
- 2019 Difference Maker of the Year New England Patriots Foundation
- 2020 Director’s Award Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce