Welcome to New Beginnings' spring 2021 E-Newsletter
SPRING | 2021
A New Year at New Beginnings

Happy Spring! We hope you enjoy this newsletter with a story about how street outreach helped a youth leave the streets and important updates on staffing, COVID-19, grants, racial equity work, Outright L/A changes, In-Kind donor Thanks, and more!
This has been a challenging year for everyone on the planet! At New Beginnings we have spent a huge amount of time and energy responding to the realities of COVID-19 and the threat it poses to our staff and the youth we serve.

We received a significant PPP loan and were able to pay all direct care employees hazard pay during the initial stay at home order. We have implemented hygiene and masking protocols at all our locations. Marian’s Place is an official BinaxNOW rapid testing site. Because of these and many other strategies we have been able to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within New Beginnings! I am truly grateful to our dedicated staff who have made this possible, and to our supporters and funders who continue to make sure New Beginnings is here for youth.

- Chris Bicknell, Executive Director
If you prefer to read your news in the same layout as the paper newsletter, you can find the entire Spring 2021 Newsletter on our website.
Potential Save the Date!
May 12, 2021

We've missed seeing you!
Help design our 2021 virtual
Annual Meeting event!

Take our Quick Survey:
New Beginnings’ Board of Directors and staff would like to find out your level of interest in a virtual Annual Meeting this spring. Questions about this event? Contact Marketing + Development Coordinator Nicole Pollock at: nicole@newbeginmaine.org


From Streets to Stability
It was early March 2019 when 16-year-old Sean* found himself without a home, again. He had been homeless off and on for years, “I had no stability and haven’t since I was very young ... I had no structure and bounced around a lot.” He slept on couches at his friends’ houses and attended school when he could. Unfortunately, as with most youth with no stability, his grades began to slip because he didn’t have access to school. Sean was homeless for a time before hearing about New Beginnings from a New Beginnings Outreach Worker outside the local library.

“I came to New Beginnings for help because I was tired of couch surfing; I needed a place to live in order to go to school.” Each time Sean went to the Drop-In Center he was greeted with a smile, warm food, a shower, and resources he needed. When a young person comes to the Drop-In Center the staff help them feel safe, welcome, important, and valued from the very first time they show up. The Outreach team follows New Beginnings’ Model of Care to help all youth who have endured trauma. Positive youth development, trauma informed care, harm reduction, stages of change, and cultural competency are the framework for providing the best care to every youth.

Sean felt at ease and continued to go to Drop-In a few times a week to get what he needed and began to build a rapport with the staff. New Beginnings model of care was developed through years of applying different approaches to every component of the agency’s work. The outcome became their mission: “Partnering with youth to create lasting change so all youth have a safe place to live and opportunities to grow.”

New Beginnings integrates the most current and relevant approaches to provide the best possible services to youth. These approaches are evidence-based and come from practices and theories supported by research and based on the needs of vulnerable youth. As many as 2.5 million youth may experience homelessness this year.1 They’ll lose their homes, friends, community, and routines—their sense of stability and safety.

A countless number of homeless youth are also victims of violence or other traumatic events. Although coming from diverse backgrounds, most of these youth have already experienced early and multiple traumas. Their responses have slowly formed over time, each incident creating a new barrier for trust. This history of trauma can lead to significant mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, attachment issues, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse disorders.2

When youth suddenly experience living on the street, many are re-traumatized. Most youth will struggle to recover from earlier traumatic events at the same time that they are trying to survive. Street youth face countless dangers, including an increased likelihood of substance abuse and a vulnerability to being trafficked.

“These youth have been through a lot before they get here. We aren’t going to push them to change or make them do things they don’t want to because, like all young adults, they want to do it their way. We are here for youth no matter what. They need to be able to look to us for support and resources,” says Kris Pitts, Community Services Director.

Within a week of Sean enrolling in Outreach case management he was able to begin transitioning into an apartment at the Transitional Living Program and meet with the NB Education Specialist so he could get back to school. “When I was homeless my life was bad. Now I can actually get things done—my life is much more stable, and I get so much support from the staff.”

Now Sean is living in his own apartment, has finished his Hi-Set diploma, and works full time in the town he grew up in. He has reconnected with his mother and continues to work on that relationship today.

The Street Outreach team can be reached M-F at 207-295-6831.
The Drop-In Center at 134 College Street in Lewiston is open 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with more hours coming soon.

1 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
We are thrilled to announce that--thanks to the support of donors like you--our 2020-21 Annual Fund Campaign was able to reach our ambitious $80,000 goal! We'd especially like to thank our Leadership Circle donors like Roopers, Northeast Bank, Androscoggin Bank, Norway Savings Bank, Central Maine Credit Union, DIRIGO FCU, Freya Olafson, Owen Larrabee & Melissa Albertson, Jim Pittman, The Jeff & Sonia Gorman Family Fund, Pam Gates, Central ME Human Resources Association, Peter Geiger, Patty Rupert, Clark Insurance, Dr. Kurt Oswald, Jane Dwinell, Peggy McRae, Jane Costlow & David Das, Green/Bourgeois Family, and Head to Toe Physical Therapy. We're grateful for gifts from Todd Braga, Rainbow Bicycle, Susanne & KC MacArthur, Todd Mellin, Dag's Bait & Sport, and many new recurring Changemakers Circle donors like Kate Carey, Eliza Huber-Weiss, Carla Oswald Reed & Diana Balboni, Kate Goodspeed, and Ali Bichler.

Thank you to all of the more than 300 individual and business donors that support our mission and are giving the gift of hope to the youth we serve!
YHDP Update
New Beginnings has continued to take a leadership role in the state's Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) that has lead to the creation of Hope & Opportunity for Maine (HOME), Maine's comprehensive plan to end and prevent youth homelessness. This spring the YHDP team released a request for proposals which makes $3.1M available to Maine agencies to implement new strategies.

All this was accomplished with the amazing collaboration of our statewide Youth Action Board (YAB) members who kept the team grounded through the entire process. For more info or a copy of the draft HOME plan, contact Joe Locke at jlocke@mainehousing.org.
Pitts promoted to newly created director position 
In October 2020, New Beginnings was pleased to promote former Prevention & Training Coordinator Kris Pitts as our new Community Services Director as part of ongoing agency restructuring.

Kris began working for New Beginnings in 2019, after having held several critical advocacy roles in youth programs in Alaska and Maine. Kris brings experience in providing accessible advocacy, crisis intervention, service provision, and education to youth, families, providers, and the community. Kris upholds a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and providing culturally-responsive services for underserved and marginalized populations
via program implementation and monitoring.
Kris Pitts & Outreach Youth worker Sunny A.
The new Community Services Director role is responsible for managing New Beginnings' Educational Support, Prevention and Training, Street Outreach, and Youth Action Board programs. We are so fortunate to have had Kris join our agency and management team at this critical time of program restructuring and emergency response to the pandemic. Kris brings experience, work ethic, and enthusiasm to the role and has already begun to make necessary programmatic changes to ensure vulnerable youth continue to have access to New Beginnings’ essential non-residential programs. Congratulations Kris!

Kris Pitts can be reached at kris@newbeginmaine.org
NB receives $10K Avangrid Foundation grant
Avangrid Foundation—in partnership with Central Maine Power, the local affiliate of AVANGRID in Maine—has gifted $10,000 in grant funding to New Beginnings.

New Beginnings will use this Avangrid Foundation funding to continue to promote the safety, connections, and growth that runaway and homeless youth need to thrive in 2021, especially in the face of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Avangrid Foundation has identified youth homelessness as a top priority for their philanthropy and is partnering with multiple organizations working to end youth homelessness in Maine.

New Beginnings, Inc. is the organization leading change with partners statewide in combating youth homelessness,” said Nicole Licata Grant, Avangrid Foundation Director. “This investment is a great opportunity for us to align our giving with a mission we believe in and that will have an impact on vulnerable youth all across Maine.”
Sugarloaf Adventure Challenge: 30 years, still going strong
December 2020 marked 30 years of New Beginnings Transitional Living Program (TLP) members going to Sugarloaf Ski Resort for their annual Adventure Challenge. COVID-19 meant our 2020 adventure trip was much more challenging then ever before.

Thankfully, that didn’t stop Youth Development Coordinator Ethan May from taking NB youth on a “trip of a lifetime.” Ethan has been on 26 of the 30 trips to Sugarloaf. “We have been the fortunate recipients of the generosity of Sugarloaf for all these years -each time receiving donated lift tickets, equipment rentals, AND usually 6/7 hotel rooms! The hotel features true luxury, and our group realizes this very quickly! It invariably impresses all participants. It has never been the case yet where someone has enjoyed this level of hotel before our trip.”
Because New Beginnings operates licensed congregate care, our staff were offered the Moderna vaccine under Maine’s 1B category of essential workers in February and March 2021. As of this writing, 90% of our staff are vaccinated for COVID-19 and doing our part to increase herd immunity in Maine and safety for everyone in our programs.

Our team has had many new faces join since our last update, please see https://newbeginmaine.org/welcome-to-the-team for details. Kris Pitts has been promoted to Community Services Director and Alishia Austin to Marian’s Place Program Coordinator. We’re pleased to welcome Clare Dwyer as Director of Programs; correspondence that would previously have been directed to Tara Kosma should now go to Clare Dwyer at

We’re thankful for 2021 COVID-19 response grants from Maine Community Foundation and United Way of Androscoggin County. Thank you to Good Shepherd Food Bank who recently awarded a capacity-building grant to our outreach food programs and Avangrid Foundation for general operating support.

We are working on plans for a spring annual meeting and a summer silent auction. To learn more or support these events, please contact Nicole Pollock at nicole@newbeginmaine.org or (207) 795-4077.

As of January 1, 2021, Outright Lewiston-Auburn is now affiliated with Maine Trans Net and New Beginnings is no longer Outright’s fiscal sponsor. We look forward to continuing our history of supportive collaboration with Outright L/A as they begin this new chapter! Outright L/A can be reached at outrightlewistonauburn@gmail.com; online at Facebook.com/OutrightLA; or by mail at Outright L/A, 9 North River Road #226, Auburn, ME 04210
NB staff participate in racial equity training

This coming May will be one year since the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a white police officer and the subsequent protests around our country and the world for racial justice. While New Beginnings’ primary focus in 2020 has been to maintain the essential services youth experiencing housing instability and food insecurity need during the pandemic, we have also recommitted our agency to examining racism and white supremacy, and working toward greater racial equity in ourselves and our organization.

New Beginnings has worked for decades in a very intentional and thoughtful way to welcome and serve LGBTQ+ (lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning) youth and to train other Maine providers to do the same. We did this not only because it was the right thing to do, but also because LGBTQ+ youth make up a disproportionately high percentage of youth experiencing homelessness—and the same is true for youth of color.

About 5% of Maine’s population are people of color, yet over 15% of youth using New Beginnings’ services are youth of color (percent varies by program and year). New Beginnings recognized that to be true to our agency values and our history, we must make the same sustained and intentional effort to improve our capacity to serve BIPOC youth (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) as we have with LGBTQ+ youth. We believe that when we center the experiences of the most vulnerable or marginalized young people, then our services and outcomes will improve not only for those youth but for all the youth we serve.

In July 2020, New Beginnings began to plan for how to best begin this process as an organization, and Executive Director Chris Bicknell emailed the staff and Board with a commitment to instituting a process of learning and change toward racial equity. The agency invited outside facilitators, Hilary North-Ellasante and Randy Levinson Clancy, to co-lead an assessment and learning process with the entire staff over several months to strengthen capacity for self-reflection and conversation grounded in racial equity and justice.

This work has been taking place in three phases, each consisting of multiple sessions with smaller working groups and the entire staff. Phase 1 focused on building relationships needed to hold challenging topics that require risk-taking and vulnerability. We recently completed Phase 2, which included sessions exploring BIPOC liberation as a foundation for antiracist work, the history of race and white supremacy in the U.S., and expanding and deepening individual self-awareness of race, racism, and our own racial identities. The third phase will focus on examination and assessment of organizational culture and will include work with our Board of Directors. We hope to translate this collective increase in antiracist awareness and knowledge into the creation of practices, policies, and structures that will support racial equity across New Beginnings.
Thank you to all of our 2020 In-kind and
Holiday Drive Donors!
Your donations of food, socks, household goods, hygiene items, holiday gifts, and more made a huge difference for our youth last year.
We couldn't have done it without you!
During COVID-19 we received so many anonymous in-kind donations!
If you mailed or dropped off donated items in 2020 and are not listed here, please contact Nicole Pollock at (207)795-4077 or nicole@newbeginmaine.org.
New Beginnings is funded in part by the State of Maine and US Departments of Health & Human Services, Family & Youth Services Bureau, Housing & Urban Development, and United Way.