Mary Seaman, the liaison for students experiencing homelessness at Lewiston High School, is retiring. Some of her former students, including Casey Paladino, call her “mom.” Paladino says Seaman helped him become a success. From left to right, are Paladino, Seaman, staffers Jamie Caouette and Meg Dumais in The Store Next Door, a resource Seaman created to provide free clothing and supplies for students.  (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — In 2010, Casey Paladino was a 15-year-old Lewiston High School student who didn’t have a home and was on his own. He couch-surfed with friends.

Fast forward to today. Paladino is a Lewiston High School graduate, Class of 2012.

He has two degrees from Syracuse University in New York, one in civil engineering and one in construction.

Paladino has returned to Lewiston and works for a construction company as an assistant project manager. “I’m out in the field.” His bosses are helping him learn the ropes, he said. “They’re really cool.”

On a recent day he joined Mary Seaman, retiring liaison for homeless students at Lewiston High School, to share how she helped him.

Students become homeless for lots of reasons, he said. Sometimes parents don’t have enough money to provide for their children. “On top of that emotions are flaring. One of my parents was never there. My mom was struggling.”


At school one of his teachers noticed he was coming to school unkept, his hair “was all messy.” After talking to Paladino and learning what he was going through, his teacher recommended he see Mary Seaman.

“He showed up one day,” Seaman said.

They talked. Seaman helped Paladino get in a program that provided an apartment through a transitional living program. “I got help, but a lot of responsibility came with it,” he said. “Once I got that stability, I was able to work and save money.”

Throughout high school he lived at the apartment with roommates, kept up his grades, worked a part-time job and saved money.

“I appreciated what I had, and knew if I stepped out of line it would be gone,” Paladino said. “Why would I want to disappoint someone who went out of their way to help me?” he asked, looking at Seaman.

Paladino considers Seaman his mother, as do other students, he said.


“It’s her empathy. She has so much love for everyone.” She does things a parent should be doing, he said, raising, teaching and loving.

Around the time they met, when he was couch-surfing, “I was having a tough time,” Paladino said. He hadn’t given up, but was beginning to think how unfair life was, and wondered “What’s the point?”

Seaman “was positive and reinforcing,” Paladino said.

Lewiston parent Anita Roundy is another Mary Seaman fan.

In 2011, her family was homeless for a while when their income stopped. One of their sons was in high school.

“She helped him and us,” Roundy said. Seaman was reassuring, “super caring. Genuine.”


She helped parents and child understand that what they were going through “was not so strange,” and helped the teen realize he wasn’t alone. “He could talk about it,” Roundy said.

She intervened for her son. For instance, if her son was late for school because of the family’s homeless situation, which at times made getting to school more complicated than normal, Seaman could advocate for her son to avoid him getting detention, something he didn’t need.

“She made the whole process easier,” Roundy said.

Her son graduated from Lewiston High School in 2011, then from Clark University in Massachusetts, Roundy said, adding he’s not done.

“He’s now at the University of Maine in Orono getting his master’s in physics engineering.”

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