AUBURN — Since 1989, New Beginnings’ Transitional Living Program has provided stable housing and supportive services to 1,018 young people struggling with homelessness. The program operates to help youth develop the necessary life skills for independent, self-sufficient living.

It was the 1,018 young lives that brought hundreds to gather at the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch ballroom recently. Together they celebrated the youth, staff, volunteers and community supporters that made it possible for the TLP to effect positive, lasting change on the lives of so many young people in its first 30 years of operation.

According to TLP Director Mike Mooney, the program has grown to 25 units of supported and independent transitional living apartments in Lewiston, Augusta and Farmington, serving young people ages 16 to 22 for up to 18 months.

Executive Director Chris Bicknell said, “If a young person has never been out of the home or never had an experience of safe stable housing, our Transitional Living Program is equipped to work with young people wherever they are at, working with them to build the skills they need to live independently.”

“The youth that come to the TLP are homeless youth, they’ve been estranged from their family for a while and they really need a place to start their life. They come to us wanting to finish school or wanting to find employment,” said Denise Vaillancourt, TLP program coordinator.

Hannah, who attended the event, provides an example of how the program has helped her meet several immediate needs: “I was able to accomplish filing my taxes. I did that with the help from somebody from New Beginnings. Usually teens and young adults when they do these kinds of things they get the help of their parents and some people don’t have that, so it’s an amazing asset to be able to do that.”

Chris Soucy, one of four alumni panelists, explained the lasting effects of his experience with the program, “I definitely don’t think I would have the drive to seek not only help when needed but to just to seek better opportunities for myself in life without the guidance I received from all the staff that were there when I was in the program.”

Christopher Soucy, center, an alumni of New Beginnings’ Transitional Living Program, shared the positive impact the program had on his life while serving as a panelist during the agency’s 2019 annual dinner. (Photo by John Paul Rondeau)

The celebration would not have been possible without the support of community-minded businesses and leaders.

Help is available 24 hours a day by calling New Beginnings’ youth shelter at 207-795-4070. Additional information can also be found online at www.NewBeginMaine.org.