‘Beth’s House’ is on the move


NORWAY — Beth Coffin may have to celebrate her birthday without a birthday cake and while living in a camper, but she’s hardly complaining.

For Beth, the fact that she is celebrating her 25th birthday on May 1 and one step closer to living in a safe and healthy environment is cause for celebration — even if she can’t have a birthday cake because of the gluten.

It’s been nearly a quarter-of-a-century since doctors told her parents that she wouldn’t live beyond the age of 2.

The West Paris woman, who lives on High Street with her mom, Bonnie Coffin, and Bonnie’s partner, Gary Waterhouse, has spinal muscular atrophy type II, two blood diseases and scoliosis that has left her wheelchair-bound. Doctors told Bonnie nearly a quarter-of-a-century ago that Beth wouldn’t live past two years old.

Their home, an old trailer with a stick-built addition on a steep hill, has been literally falling apart around them. With her parents unable to work because Coffin needs a full-time caretaker and because of medical issues, repairs to the house have been limited.

Last year a committee of concerned residents from communities across Oxford Hills formed the “Beth’s House Committee,” to try to raise enough money to build Coffin a new home.

They are now a big step closer to their goal as Beth approaches her 25th birthday.

The family recently sold their property on High Street and have purchased a nearby lot that is more suited to their needs.

“The project is shaping up, the new property is very level in comparison,” said Beth in an e-mail to the Sun Journal. “We are in need of a well and septic system, we have digging equipment but need some professionals that know how to get the job done.”

Beth said the family will be living in a 34-foot camper on the new property until the house is built. Committee member Paul Thornfeldt said Friday that the committee has about $34,000 in the bank now but not enough to build a house. Although there have been numerous donations of labor and materials including and electrician, plumber and a heating technician, more materials and help are needed to get the job done.

If all falls into place, Thornfeldt said the house construction may start as soon as next month and be completed by Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile the planning and fundraising continues.

The Bridgton Rotary Club is having a golf tournament on May 22 at the Bridgton Highlands Country Club. Thornfeldt said the committee is looking for teams to participate and hole sponsors. There are numerous prizes including a $10,000 prize for a hole-in-one on the 10th hole, he said. The $75 fee includes green fees, cart rental, a gift bag and dinner. More information can be obtained by calling Ken Barthelette at Bridgton Eye Care, 207-674-2030 or e-mail him at [email protected]

All donations for “Beth’s House” are accepted at any Norway Savings Bank.

Tax deductible donations can be mailed to Community Concepts Inc., Attn; Jim Wilkens, 79 Main St., Auburn, ME 04210.

For more information about Beth’s House, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM6WfMyv708.

[email protected]