The Midcoast Youth Center has exceeded its initial fundraising goal – and then set a new one – to meet the growing needs of local students as the deadline to donate draws near.
The nonprofit organization’s “25to50” campaign began last month when an anonymous donor pledged to match any donations the youth center would receive up to $ 25,000 before the end of the campaign. year. According to Midcoast Youth Center founder Jamie Dorr, all money raised will be used to support the youth center’s offerings at a time when demand for the centre’s services has increased, especially from local homeless youth.
As of last week, the center had received nearly $ 45,300 from 79 donors in the community alone. Now the center hopes to raise $ 50,000 from the community, which would total $ 75,000 with the corresponding donation.
“In a year that continues to give one challenge after another, these donations help us know that we can continue to provide service and support to those who need it most,” said Dorr. “Our center serves such a variety of people and you never know who gets what level of support. It de-stigmatizes asking for help. We have a very diverse group of young people and families who come and that creates a beautiful community that is caring for one another. We are so thankful that the community recognizes and supports this.
Dorr said the money raised would also help the center hire a part-time community outreach coordinator in the new year to help find and support local youth in need, especially those living or at risk. to end up homeless.
The center, based in the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark, welcomes local students aged 10-24 and offers a host of free resources, such as after-school programs, adult mentors, homework clubs and activities, hot snacks and meals, as well as school clothes and supplies if needed. The youth center also connects students in need with any resources outside the center that students may need, such as health care, mental health support or addiction treatment.
Each day, an average of 45 to 50 local students visit the center each day, according to Dorr. In 2020, the center served 550 local students.
The anonymous donor said he offered the matching donation to support the organization which he said is “relatively young but has already made its mark in this area.”
“We grew up in Bath and we are very sorry for the young people who face the challenges they face,” said the donor. “We have been very impressed with the work that the organization has already undertaken, but we know that there is still a long way to go to eliminate the problems our young people face today. Everyone benefits when people rally around a cause like this.
Rebecca Trask of Phippsburg said the youth center is “probably the best thing that can happen” to her two middle-aged boys.
“If you’re a busy parent, you know when they drop out of school and go there, they’re doing fine,” Trask said. “I never worry about them there. When you can’t be there you know there’s a nice person there to make sure everything is okay.
In addition to being a safe place for students after school, Trask said the additional help the center provides to students and families in need is “ongoing.”
“When the kids are in there you can’t tell who’s in need and who isn’t because they’re all together,” Trask said. “Everyone is treated the same. It warms your heart. The center is a huge asset to the community. If you had a kid or family member who needed something, this is where he would go get it, and if the center couldn’t give it to him, Jamie would find a way to support himself.
Although many students visiting the center after school simply need a snack, help with homework, or a caring adult to talk about the day’s events, Dorr said the youth center saw an increase in the number of homeless youth who need help.
When the center helps homeless students, it could range from buying the student new clothes and personal hygiene products, taking them to medical appointments, or having their hair cut.
Since the start of the school year, the youth center has identified 41 homeless local students, Dorr said. At the end of the school year, she estimated the number would rise to 50-100 students, a record for the center, but Dorr knows the center is not reaching everyone who might need help.
Dorr said she was aware of 193 homeless students in Sagadahoc County between 2017-2019.
According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, there were approximately 2,552 homeless public school students in Maine during the 2018-19 school year. Among them, it is estimated that 428 homeless youth in Maine are unaccompanied. The board also estimated that there were 139 other homeless young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 in Maine during the 2018-19 school year.
Donations can be made by texting MYCATTERS at 41444, sending a check to Midcoast Youth Center, or visiting midcoastyouth.org. The deadline to make a donation is Friday December 31st.
If a member of the community prefers to donate items, Dorr said the center accepts gift cards at stores like Target, Walmart and Walgreens, which are used to purchase clothing, personal hygiene items, and meet customer needs. other basic needs that students may have.
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