Bella arrived at the shelter in tears, hopeless and scared to death. She was a young Mom that was struggling to maintain mental stability after DHHS had removed her children from her care. She felt as though her world was crumbling around her.

She met with the shelter manager for about an hour and half that first night. She stood at the end of that meeting and said “you have given me more hope that I’ve had in a long, long time.”

Since that night this summer Bella hasn’t stopped working. She worked on her goals constantly and when she was feeling overwhelmed she reached out to supports- counselors, family, friends and shelter staff.

When she was about to give up and afraid of what her future held she sat with us and cried, processed and problem solved. Bella’s children were returned to her last week! I watched them run around laughing and her parenting them.

I realized we are making a difference. We made a difference for Bella and her children. They are moving into their own apartment this week and are very excited to begin the next chapter in their lives.

We talked tonight about her time at the shelter and she said she felt that she has grown as an individual while at the shelter. She said it wasn’t always fun but she remained focused on her children and what needed to happen. She reflected that she “faced fears every day and I learned how to cope.”

She gained personal skills around asking for help, looking at possibilities and ways to self-regulate. She continues to struggle at times but knows its okay to ask for help now. She said she has become a “stronger and wiser person.”

When asked about staff and volunteers at the shelter Bella stated “staff and volunteers were awesome and helped me in more ways than many people know. I love all the staff and volunteers. If I hadn’t come to the shelter I wouldn’t have gotten my children back.”

Western Maine Homeless Outreach

The Western Maine Homeless Outreach Shelter runs mostly on volunteer support. Currently the shelter is open overnights and is looking for volunteers to support in working day shifts which will allow the shelter to be running during the day so that community members do not have to leave during the day. Interested in volunteering for the shelter? Contact Emily Ladd-Chaney at 779-7609.

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