The following article was published in The Times Record on 8/23/19 and written by Jennifer Iacovelli, the director of development for Tedford Housing and author of Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day.
It’s funny how mindsets tend to change with the flip of the calendar. It seems like Mainers – and those tourists visiting our amazing Vacationland state – start to realize colder weather and the realities of a more structured schedule lie ahead once July turns into August. Summer-themed items are a thing of the past in stores and the back to school supplies are starting to get replaced by Halloween decorations.
I was lucky enough to squeeze in a vacation with my two sons between the end of summer track and the beginning of football practices. Since being back from vacation I’ve been focused on getting backpacks filled with school supplies and clothes from the Ready Set Go to Learn (RSG2L) program (which I wrote about in a Giving Voice column published last year) for Tedford Housing’s school-aged clients. I’m also prepping for two visits from Bowdoin student volunteers for orientation and the college’s annual Common Good Day. Students will be back on campus before we know it.
Our board members will start meeting again on a monthly basis, along with the important and focused committee work that will begin again. I’m also starting to think about the upcoming Warm Thy Neighbor season, which provides one-time, emergency heating assistance to extremely low-income families and individuals in the community. And, believe it or not, I also have our annual Christmas Store on the brain. We look forward to partnering with Pathway Vineyard Church once again to provide a free “store” for the families we serve during the holiday season.
The realities of my job make me feel so fortunate that I am able to take my kids on a short vacation purely for our leisure. The outreach work by our case managers to neighbors in the community who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless continues to rise. Our two homeless shelters for individuals and families continue to remain full. Worries are heightened as the start of school gets closer and the temperatures begin to dip.
The good news is that there are always silver linings to our work. There are the success stories of those individuals and families moving into permanent housing. There’s the help we receive from volunteers who sort the donations of household items, toiletries and cleaning supplies from generous supporters to help people set up their new homes. There are our regular supportive housing tenants who are helping to coordinate a crew that will put together a new playset we were able to purchase with funding from the Rotary Club of Bath. We are also elated to hear that the Merrymeeting Project for homeless youth, which Tedford Housing could no longer fund, has a new home with the Midcoast Community Alliance.
That flip of the calendar from the carefree summer vacation mode to more serious school and work mode often gives people new motivation to help others. I tend to see a spike in inquiries regarding volunteer opportunities or ways people can contribute to our everyday work in the community creating pathways from homelessness to home. If you feel so inclined to be more involved with Tedford Housing, I’d love to chat with you. Our summer fellow from Bowdoin, Elise Hocking, did a great job identifying more volunteer opportunities for us. These opportunities include picking up and delivering meals to the shelter, making packets for our RentSmart programs for shelter guests, helping us maintain our wait list, sorting donations or managing our volunteer schedule. I’m also open to your ideas around helping to support Tedford Housing and the people we serve. Feel free to give me a call at 207-729-1161, ext. 101 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.