LEWISTON – Ten area churches were represented at the kick-off day on April 30 for Families Intact, Hope House’s new program to assist parents struggling to keep or regain custody of their children.

“We’ve never had such a broad response to any of our past trainings, for other programs we’ve offered,” said Bruce Willson, who with his wife, Jan, founded the work in 1986.

“It’s encouraging that we’re on target in seeing a need, but sobering that it is such a widespread problem. Many communities were represented, from Farmington, to Oxford, to Augusta, to New Gloucester, and, of course, a lot came from right here in L/A.”

The line-up of speakers included Auburn Deputy Police Chief Phil Crowell, talking on domestic red flags. He also talked about the Domestic Violence Follow-Up Safety Team he spearheaded, which checks in on families for six months following domestic violence, and which has cut down on repeat offender calls.

It encouraged attendees of the Hope House training that their follow-up and involvement as mentors for six months with struggling families could make a difference.

The legal side of child custody was addressed by attorneys Verne Paradie and Stan Jones, who gave volunteer “court buddies” tips on how to support parents in the court process.

Debbie Gray, a Department of Health and Human Services caseworker, described the process of DHHS intervention, and Debra Marron, Hope House mentor coordinator, taught specifics on how to mentor.

“We’re hoping to get the program up and running by June,” said Jan Willson, “so any who still would like to get involved as a volunteer mentor, court buddy or sponsor-church to befriend and be part of a support system for parent-participants of Families Intact should call us at 777-3776, and we’ll fill them in through videotapes of the training.”

Parents wanting information about the new program may call or visit Hope House’s support center at 91 College St. Some parents attended the training to sign up for the new program’s assistance.


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