NORWAY – The nonprofit health organization HOPE, which had to leave its Paris home in July, has found new space in the Progress Center in Norway.

“We seem to have found each other after being around for quite a few years,” said Dr. Ken Hamilton, founder of Healing of Persons Exceptional.

Hamilton, a former surgeon at Stephens Memorial Hospital, started HOPE in 1987. The organization’s mission is to help people in crisis find meaning and value in their lives as a way of healing.

The Progress Center on Cottage Street was incorporated in 1980 and provides services to adults and children with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to help the people it serves reach their highest level of personal independence.

“I think that it has a lot of potential to it, so it’s a very positive thing,” said Laurie Phillips, director of quality assurance and community services at the center, about HOPE’s arrival.

Phillips said the two organizations may operate separately, but could cooperate if staff members from the center become involved in HOPE’s activities.

HOPE occupied the former residence of Perley and Mary Ripley at 52 High St. The Ripleys stated in their wills that the building should be used for health-related purposes.

The estate is managed by the Key Trust of Portland, which gave HOPE a one-year notice prior to terminating an agreement between the two to use the building. Hamilton said additional costs imposed on the trust by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a bill passed by the United States Congress for corporate reform, led to the decision.

The organization held space at the Mildred M. Fox School on East Main Street in Paris, a former elementary school, before receiving the offer from the Progress Center. Hamilton said Larry Jordan, a maintenance worker at the center, suggested that HOPE move in after Hamilton gave a speech at the Rotary Club.

Hamilton donated a peace pole that had formerly been on the lawn at 52 High St. to SAD 17 to be placed at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

Hamilton said he is interested in creating HOPE as a regional organization. He said that while the organization is seeking to purchase the former Center for Hope and Healing at 52 High St., it could maintain the office space at the Progress Center.

“We’re delighted to stay here forever,” Hamilton said.

The organization holds three HOPE meetings in Maine every week, including one every Thursday at 4 p.m. that will take place at the Progress Center office. Hamilton said other rooms in the center will also be available for HOPE’s meetings if they are not being used by the center for other purposes.

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