Bath Youth Center launches fundraiser to help growing number of students in need

The Midcoast Youth Center in Bath has launched a fundraising campaign with a goal of $ 50,000, which it hopes to reach in order to help local students as the center has seen the need for its services increase during the COVID pandemic. -19.

Bath Middle School 8th grader Emily Bradford cuts vegetables as part of a cooking and nutrition class at Midcoast Youth Center. Courtesy / Jamie Dorr

The centre’s “25 to 50” campaign began when an anonymous donor pledged to match all donations the youth center will receive up to $ 25,000 by the end of the year. According to Midcoast Youth Center founder Jamie Dorr, all money raised will be used to support the youth center’s offerings at a time when the centre’s need for services has increased, especially for local homeless youth.

“The pandemic continues to present many challenges for families and young people,” Dorr said. “What we are seeing now is that the needs have increased and we need additional staff who can help provide case management and support to ensure that everyone gets what they need when they need them. “

The center, based in the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark, welcomes local students aged 10 to 24 and offers a host of free resources, such as after-school programs, adult mentors, homework clubs and lessons. art, snacks and hot meals. , as well as school clothes and supplies if necessary. The youth center also connects students in need with any resources outside the center that students may need, such as health care, mental health support or addiction treatment.

In 2020, Dorr said the center was serving 550 local students.

As the center continued to help local students get through the pandemic, Dorr said the number of the center, especially homeless youth, had declined. She said this is likely due to the fact that the students were not at school, which made it difficult for school staff to identify who needed help.

“We think a lot of people have gone without the support they might have needed,” Dorr said. “Now that everyone is back to school full time, it’s only November and we’re already at the same level as what we would see in a full school year. We expect that by January or February our numbers will exceed what we have seen in recent years. “

Since the start of the school year, the youth center has identified 24 homeless high school students, Dorr said. At the end of the school year, she estimated the number would drop to between 50 and 100 students, a record for the center, but Dorr said she knew that was not all.

Dorr said she was aware of 193 homeless students in Sagadahoc County between 2017-2019.

According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, there were approximately 2,552 homeless public school students in Maine during the 2018-19 school year. Among them, it is estimated that 428 homeless youth in Maine are unaccompanied. The board also estimated that there were 139 other homeless young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 in Maine during the 2018-19 school year.

“People might not realize the magnitude of the needs that exist in our community unless they are on the front lines,” Dorr said. “Years ago, I had no idea how many kids faced a lot of adversity. Now that I see it, I know how important it is and how we can come together to help these young people and show them how much they mean to this community.

When the center helps homeless students, it could range from buying new clothes and personal hygiene products for the student, taking them to medical appointments, or having their hair cut.

“Sometimes we see kids who don’t go to school because they don’t have a place to shower or don’t have clean clothes,” said Donna Verhoeven, Outreach Coordinator. young people for the Merrymeeting Homeless Youth Project. “We make sure these barriers are removed so they can feel confident going through those doors. If we can level the playing field so that a student can connect and move forward, that gives them hope. As they acquire these material elements and personal connections, it helps them feel comfortable enough to connect with more opportunities and even open up more to additional support.

Donations can be made by texting MYCATTERS at 41444, sending a check to Midcoast Youth Center, or visiting midcoastyouth.org.

If a member of the community prefers to donate items, Dorr said the center accepts gift cards at stores like Target, Walmart and Walgreens, which are used to purchase clothing, personal hygiene items, and meet customer needs. other basic needs that students may have.


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