New Beginnings to celebrate 30 years

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LEWISTON — New Beginnings will celebrate its 30th anniversary at its annual meeting on Thursday, April 29, at DiVinci’s Eatery.

New Beginnings Emergency Shelter first opened its doors to runaway and homeless youth in March of 1980. Since then, more than 7,000 young people and their families have used the shelter in times of crisis.

Many of the agency’s founders have been invited to the meeting as special guests by board President Chris Ferguson. Current board members, advisors and staff will hear from the founders about how and why the agency first came to be needed.

The shelter began serving youth in Greene and moved to its current location in Lewiston in 1985. Since then, New Beginnings has expanded to provide shelter, transitional living and community services at seven locations in Lewiston, Augusta and Farmington, according to Bob Rowe, its current executive director.

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“The community members who started New Beginnings worked hard to convince the public of the need for the shelter and at the time ran into considerable resistance in both Greene and Lewiston,” said Rowe. The project did have strong support from community members and agencies such as the Department of Human Services, the Criminal Justice Planning Agency, Androscoggin Community Coordinating Committee, Tri-County Mental Health Services and the Lewiston Police Department.

Raymond Duchette, former DHS regional director of social services, in an article published in the Sun Journal in 1978, “stressed the necessity of such a shelter.” 

Dot Larrabee and Dave Faulkner were also instrumental in getting the program off the ground through their work with the Androscoggin Community Coordinating Committee, said Rowe. Other founders attending the 30-year celebration will include David Dubord, Bill Lowenstein, Pete Bosse and Cecile Szal, all of whom were early supporters of the shelter and later served on the nonprofit’s board of directors.

Today, New Beginnings is the largest organization in Maine focused on runaway and homeless youth.

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