Jamie is a single parent with two children who both have special needs. Over the last few years, she has also struggled with her own mental health issues and applied for Social Security Income (SSI). When her SSI was denied a second time, she told staff in Farmington that she was open to obtaining employment. This year, she began providing childcare for a fellow participant’s daughter and received payment through the state. The experience helped her confidence and she decided to find a full-time, higher paying position and she found a job at an area coffeeshop. While working and managing her family’s many medical appointments, Jamie recently needed to find a new place to live. Staff helped her search for a new apartment and continued to encourage her until she secured one. She recently thanked staff for their help and said, “sometimes I need to know that I am making the right changes.”
Success in Washington County
When James and his partner enrolled in Calais last summer, they were raising three young children. James had lost his driver’s license due to an operating under the influence conviction. He was a trained carpenter, but without a license he could not travel to work sites. James asked Calais staff to help him complete the state’s requirements to reinstate his driver’s license. Staff referred James to a licensed drug and alcohol counselor for required weekly counseling sessions. This month James completed his counseling sessions, got his license reinstated and Calais staff helped him secure employment with an area construction company. The family also welcomed their fourth child.
Success in Penobscot County
David enrolled with Families Forward in Brewer in 2017. This year he completed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training and he was hired by an ambulance company. With his new job and higher income David told staff that his family is buying a house in the Waterville area so he can be closer to his workplace. Staff helped the family get some funds to relocate. David emailed staff the following “God has finally fulfilled our prayers, and with your help it has become a possibility. Know that you’re helping many people and that we have certainly noticed.”
Success in Kennebec County
“When I came to Families Forward, I was employed and about to give birth. Maybe I felt fear because I was about to have my first child, and I was content with just having a job. I gave birth in May and had it in my mind that I would return to work and not need help. The Augusta Families Forward team never wanted me to settle for that. No matter who I spoke with, the staff always encouraged me towards more. The job I was content with hired someone else while I was gone and expected me to survive on ten hours a week. Immediately, I called Heidy at Families Forward, and she asked me again, “What about school?” I didn’t think I could do it and felt I had no choice but to try again. In the fall, I will start taking the seven classes I have left to finish my degree in business. I can honestly say without the push from my supporters at Families Forward, it wouldn’t have been possible!”
Success in Aroostook County
Darren enrolled in Caribou this month. He had recently relocated from another state. Darren told staff that he had a Class A CDL license and significant long-haul driving experience, but he wanted to job that he would allow him to be home at night. Staff helped Darren create a resume highlighting his years of experience and referred him to an employer partner that was looking for Class A drivers for local deliveries. Darren was offered a position. He told staff that he now feels confident to support his family and still take part in their daily lives.
Success in Penobscot County
When Dory and Brandon enrolled with Families Forward in Brewer last spring, they were homeless with two young children. To help with their housing situation, staff made referrals to Maine Housing and Penquis which helped them secure a hotel room and a voucher for permanent housing. Dory had a degree in Cosmetology, and Brandon had years of experience in construction. Staff provided Dory with a job lead for an area salon that was seeking help. Dory interviewed with the salon, and she was hired on the spot. Brandon recently secured employment with a building company that requires him to use the family vehicle for travel during the week. The family is currently saving towards an additional vehicle which would allow Dory to work more hours at the salon.
Success in Aroostook County
Daisy enrolled in Houlton last winter. During her intake, Daisy expressed strong interest in working with people who experienced substance use disorders. To get started, staff helped her get an internship with Aroostook Mental Health Center (AMHC). They also connected her with Maine Educational Opportunity Center (MEOC) for help with financial aid and applying to the human services program at the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA). Daisy was recently accepted into the UMA program as a halftime student starting this fall and AMHC offered her a full-time position. She told staff that she will be busy, but she is excited to work towards her dream of becoming a licensed drug and alcohol counselor.
Success in York County
When Josee enrolled in Biddeford, she had recently arrived in Maine with her eight children from Rwanda. At her intake, Josee indicated that she was eager to learn English and staff helped her enroll at Biddeford Adult Education. As a recent refugee she was also referred to Project GEAR (Growing Employment Access for Refugees) through Catholic Charities and assigned a GEAR Specialist. A few months ago, Josee was faced with eviction as the property owner planned to renovate her building and increase the rent. Staff helped her apply to area subsidized housing agencies and referred her to Maine Equal Justice and Pine Tree Legal for legal aid and advocacy. Josee searched for housing but had difficulty finding suitable housing due to her family size and the limited availability of housing in Southern Maine. On the day the family was evicted, Josee contacted staff informing them that some of her family’s belongings remained in the apartment. Staff contacted the property owner who provided some more time for the family to retrieve their belongings. With help from York County Community Action, Josee was able to rent a U-Haul truck and a storage unit. Staff then helped Josee to retrieve her family’s belongings and put them into storage.
After putting their belongings in storage, Josee and her children spent the night at an area family shelter, but they were asked to leave the following night. Josee called her GEAR Specialist who picked up the family and brought them to a hotel in a neighboring town. The following day, a team meeting was held made up of Families Forward staff, the GEAR Specialist, the family’s case manager from Gateway Community Services and a Regional Planner from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The team devised a plan to help the family. Families Forward staff went to the Biddeford food pantry and brought five boxes of food to the family at the hotel. Maine Equal Justice was contacted regarding the family’s eviction and removal from the shelter. The GEAR Specialist helped Josee access rent relief funds so the family could stay in the hotel for a few weeks. After their hotel stay, Josee and her children moved in with a family member and Josee got a job in a residential health facility working weekends. When Biddeford staff reached out to their peers across the state asking if they knew of any housing opportunities for a family of nine, a Program Manager recommended a property management company in Lewiston. The family secured a four-bedroom apartment in Lewiston, and they will be moving in soon.
Success in Kennebec County
David moved to Maine last fall after living in an RV on the west coast. He told staff that he was concerned that his college credits would not be accepted towards a degree in Maine. Staff helped David get a degree audit, and he discovered that he only needed six additional credits to complete his degree from his former university and that he was eligible to participate in commencement. His family offered to pay for his travel to attend commencement and through work supports staff helped him purchase a cap and gown and transportation to the event. He also received resources for tuition and books so he can complete his last two classes. David had this to say about his accomplishment: “I can’t even explain the feelings I am having after never experiencing a graduation in my life and being the first person in my family to get a degree, this is so huge.”
Success in Knox County
Maria recently fled Ukraine with her two small children. Her husband stayed behind in Ukraine to defend their country. She told staff that she walked 38 miles with her children to the border and spent a month in another country with the hope to return to Ukraine. When it became clear they would not soon be returning Ukraine, Maria found her way to Maine through Airbnb when a local property owner offered her a place to live for free. Maria told staff that she was a lawyer in Ukraine and that she would like to practice immigration law in the US and advocate for others in situations like hers. Staff are currently working with community partners to get Maria’s degrees and certifications transcribed. Staff provided Maria with referrals for mental health services and support groups to help her with the ordeal she and her children have experienced. They also helped her to enroll in ESOL classes and contacted 18 childcare providers to find one with openings for both of her children. Hearing Maria’s story, the daycare agreed to enroll her children for free.