Anna Chabot of the Youth Leadership Advisory Team talks Wednesday about her experiences at New Beginnings at the annual celebration dinner at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. From left: Pam LePage, parent of a former youth client; Hyann Willey, a former client; Tamiya Joseph of the Youth Leadership Advisory Team; and Chabot. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — On June 1, Anna Chabot will attend her last day of classes at Lewiston High School. A week later she’ll graduate and shortly after that, she’ll head to Central Maine Community College to study early childhood education.

Not a bad plan for an 18-year-old. It’s even more impressive when you consider that a couple of years ago, Anna was a 16-year-old girl completely on her own with no place to go.

She ended up at the New Beginnings shelter and though it was a rocky time, she tells her story these days with a bright smile.

“I feel like I was on a really good adventure,” Anna said Wednesday night.

With three other young women and the parent of a young son, Anna was on a panel telling stories about hard climbs out of bleak times. The panel discussion is part of the New Beginnings annual celebration, which was held Wednesday at Martindale Country Club.

Tamiya Joseph, who went through the New Beginnings Community Living program, described the darkness that her life had become before she was introduced to the program.

“I was very angry and I was very depressed,” she said. “New Beginnings was very welcoming. It was the most support I’d had in my life.”

Hyann Willey, now 21, is enrolled in the nursing program at the University of New England. The future is somewhat sunny, but a few years ago, it wasn’t so. Willey went through three New Beginnings programs before graduating from LHS in 2016.

“I’m so grateful,” Willey said Wednesday night, “for New Beginnings’ support in helping me to reach my dreams.”

Pam LePage was on the panel as her way of thanking the organization for helping her young son years ago when LePage herself could not.

“Even though you think it might be hopeless to drop your child off at a homeless shelter,” she said, “it might turn out to be the best thing you could ever do.”

Also at the Wednesday night dinner, New Beginnings’ board of directors recognized Chris Ferguson of Auburn as the recipient of its 4th Annual Service Award.

Ferguson, field office manager for Geiger, has served on the board of directors for 15 years. In 2005 he was elected vice president and served in that role for one year until he was elected president in 2006.


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