PRESS & COMMUNITY STORIES

COMMUNITY STORIES

Young, homeless in Brunswick: ‘It’s not something I would go to school and tell my friends about’

Though she never reported it, and was never reported to school staff or police, in those months Driscoll actually met the federal definition of homelessness. She did not have a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence,” and was thus eligible for protections and transportation accommodations from the School Department. “It’s not something I would go to school and tell my friends about,” she said.

Kids count finds more Maine children living in Poverty

PORTLAND, Maine – The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count report says the number of Maine children living in poverty grew from 42,000 in 2008 to 45,000 in 2013. The report says Maine’s child poverty rate of 18 percent in 2013 was higher than before the recession, when it was 16 percent.

I was homeless and my life was trash. Then this Seattle family took me in

“The first night I slept at their house, Tamar’s older sister, Mariya Manuel, cleaned up her room and insisted I sleep on her bed. Some couches I slept on before would be considered soft, but nothing compared to this. “You needed it more than I did,” she explained. Her mom even knocked on my door and offered me a glass of water. It felt like a hotel. I stayed for a couple weeks, and then the strangest thing happened. One evening, Tamar’s mom picked me up from work around 11:30 p.m. She asked if I would like to join the family.”

2019 Press

City of Portland awards funds to 11 community partners from asylum seeker donations

The City received over $900,000 in donations this summer to assist asylum seekers arriving in Maine. More than 4,000 generous donors and many community partners also assisted with no expectation of being reimbursed. “On behalf of the City Council, I’m pleased we are able to award these funds as reimbursements to the nonprofit entities who assisted us.” The 11 community partner organizations include:

St. Paul’s Annual Report (2019)

Outreach Ministry Team Report

In 2019, Outreach was fortunate to receive both generous contributions from the Christmas fair, and an anonymous matching contribution from a parishioner. We distributed $42,000 over the year to the following organizations, providing help and assistance to a variety of organizations working to make a difference in the lives of those who can use help and compassion.

  • TEAN –EMERGENCY ACTION NETWORK – $3,500

Brunswick Community Support Group is Working Hard to Welcome Refugee Families

When Sarah Singer, Teresa Gillis, and other community leaders founded The Emergency Action Network (TEAN), they were responding to the rising poverty and homelessness afflicting students at Brunswick Schools. TEAN worked with teachers and administrators in Brunswick schools to identify the needs of struggling students and families. Once a specific need was clear to TEAN, they utilized the Yard Sale feature on Facebook to collect donations or, members of TEAN purchased the necessary item outright and delivered it to the Superintendent’s office.

Each fall TEAN members visit faculty in all four Brunswick schools. They connect with educators and identify needs the taskforce is equipped to address. When a child needed running shoes to participate in gym class, TEAN got those shoes to the student. Singer expressed how happy the recipient was once he was able to participate in activities with the rest of his class. When mobile home park Bay Bridge Estates experienced well failures, TEAN delivered a U-Hall filled with Poland Springs bottled water to the residents. These examples of TEAN’s excellent work explain Singer’s classification of the organization as a “catch-all safety net” and a “crisis response group.”

Brunswick to hire cultural broker, establish fund for asylum-seekers

BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on Monday approved hiring a cultural broker to assist asylum-seekers, and establishment of a community support fund for them.

School Board member Sarah Singer, who is also a member of the town’s ad-hoc immigration task force and a coordinator for the Emergency Action Network, said there are 18 asylum-seekers now living at Brunswick Landing and four more are soon expected. In the coming weeks, Singer said, the town is expecting a total of about 40 asylum-seekers. They are some of the more than 300 who arrived in Portland in June from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many have been staying in an emergency shelter at the Portland Exposition Building, which is leased to the Maine Red Claws basketball team starting Aug. 15.

Resource list from Freeport Working Group to Welcome New Mainers

Facebook Communities:

If you prefer filling immediate concrete needs for asylee and other low-income families, there are several very active Facebook communities that provide ways to do so. They often put out calls for specific items, which most of the time are small (i.e. clothes- size 4T, a dry erase board for an ESOL classroom, gas cards, etc.); just Google the name of the Facebook group and ask to join.

▪ Freeport Friends (just for and by Freeport residents and students in the RSU5 school community)

▪ Maine Needs- supporting families with young children- see description above
▪ The Emergency Action Network (TEAN) in Brunswick- supports asylum families and homeless teens in the Brunswick area.

Community groups step up to welcome asylum seekers

“The work is the same we’ve always done – there’s just more of it,” Ms. Harrison said of TEAN’s work with the asylum seekers. “All the families have kids.” TEAN’s board members were quick to highlight the vital role Nsiona Nguizani has played since he was hired by the Town of Brunswick as a full-time cultural navigator for the families. They also praised Brunswick’s public health infrastructure, which has attended to the needs of the asylum seekers from the beginning, as well as many other partners in the community. Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program responded to the arrival of people from the Congo and Angola by stocking culturally appropriate foods. Crystal Springs Farm donated use of a barn to store large items like donated beds and bicycles. Midcoast Literacy trained volunteers to tutor newcomers in English and to provide one-to-one mentorships. “The asylum seekers often lead us in knowing what is needed,” said Ms. Bateman of TEAN. “They are professional, talented, and want an opportunity to volunteer. When a lot of the kids didn’t have boots, they volunteered to measure the feet of all those kids. They have gone door to door to find out needs in relation to phones, which are essential for staying in touch with families back in Africa, and for accessing services. It’s a collaboration.”

Brunswick groups hope to provide smooth entry for asylum-seekers

Midcoast New Mainers and The Emergency Action Network are among the groups that have offered to support the new residents. They are collecting donations, and working to line up translators and other aid.

“Our group and Midcoast New Mainers have been providing all support for these individuals,” Singer, who is also a co-founder of TEAN, said at Monday’s Town Council meeting. “I was at the Landing when refugees arrived. They are quite a lovely group of people and I am grateful to have gotten to meet them.”

Brunswick task force assessing needs of asylum-seekers

The task force includes Councilors Jane Millett, Dan Ankeles and Steve Walker, Town Manager John Eldridge, Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Shawn Lambert, and School Board members Teresa Gillis, Sarah Singer and Celina Harrison. According to the members, resources will depend on what different organizations – which could include The Emergency Action Network, Midcoast New Mainers, Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program and Midcoast Regional Development Authority – can offer and how they can coordinate their efforts.

Guest column: A tale of two towns

The outpouring of empathy, generosity, and energy in volunteering from our Brunswick residents has been nothing short of astounding. More than 100 volunteers are contributing their time, energy, and creativity as drivers, mentors, tutors, and family support teams to help meet the many challenges these new residents face. Non-profit groups in our community, TEAN (The Emergency Action Network), the Midcoast New Mainer Support Group, Bowdoin College, the Midcoast Hunger Food Bank, the Seventh Day Adventist Community Center (clothing bank), local churches and religious communities, Midcoast Literacy and Merrymeeting Bay Adult Education, and more have risen to the enormous challenge. Teachers, school administrators and coaches, as well as lawyers, doctors, dentists, and Midcoast Hospital have contributed greatly also. Our response to the asylum-seekers represents Brunswick at its best.

Good Neighbors

I am writing to nominate Theresa Gillis and the other organizers of TEAN (The Emergency Action Network) for a Neighborhood Hero award. TEAN is a Brunswick based, 100% volunteer funded and operated organization that provides for area families and individuals who, due to poverty, unfortunate circumstances, or recent tragedy, have an urgent need that they can’t meet. When the TEAN coordinators are made aware of a family whose home has burned, or a child who lacks a warm winter coat, or an elderly person who needs a meal once a week, they leverage the power of social media to make the community aware of the need. Anyone who is a member of the TEAN Facebook group or e-mail community can respond. And the response is consistently overwhelming. Theresa and her team then coordinate donations to make sure that they are delivered to recipients in a way that confidentiality and security can be respected for both donors and recipients. TEAN has provided everything from safe drinking water for dozens of families whose landlord didn’t properly maintain the water source in a Brunswick trailer park to scholarships for underprivileged children to attend summer day camps. In a little over two years, they have collected thousands of donations and impacted thousands of lives. I can think of no individual or organization who has done more to bring my community together or make it a better place in the 46 years I have lived there.

Surge in youth homelessness sparks action in Brunswick area

Brunswick has seen the fastest rise in youth homelessness in Maine, and area residents are responding by collecting shoes, clothes and other items and even opening their homes…Teresa Gillis and Sarah Singer of Brunswick nearly three years ago began The Emergency Action Network, a group that receives requests from school officials for items homeless students need and finds community members willing to find them.

Loss of funding cripples 3 Midcoast school districts’ efforts to cope with spike in homeless students

“The Emergency Action Network … is a local effort to connect student needs (like a backpack, a winter jacket or a pair of basketball sneakers) to a network of nearly 1,000 local allies who help fill these needs. In the event that the community members are not able to find or supply the items needed, or if there is an emergency, TEAN has funding it can use to step in. “People come to us when they can’t find help anywhere else,” said Erin Mangalam, one of TEAN’s organizers.”

Nonprofit lends homeless students a helping hand

“BRUNSWICK — When the Brunswick High School’s athletic director called saying a homeless student needed a pair of basketball sneakers in order to play on the team, Erin Mangalam and the five other mothers who make up The Emergency Action Network sprang into action, broadcasting the need to hundreds of allies. Within 24 hours, the student had not just one pair of shoes, but several.

This is what TEAN does every time there is a need for a homeless student. There is no paperwork involved, and they never learn the child’s name. They just reach out to their network and get the job done. With 70 homeless students in Brunswick, “there’s a big need,” Mangalam said. “Sometimes it’s hard to see that.” In the two years since TEAN has been operational, Mangalam and her fellow organizers have only seen that need increase, whether due to a lack of affordable housing in the area or because of emergency. As the need has increased, so has the network of what she calls allies — community members ready to help when they are called. Currently, there are about 850, she said.”

Supporting Community Organizations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In true polar bear fashion, many members of the Bowdoin community have expressed interest in helping those most affected by this unprecedented crisis. As we grapple with keeping ourselves and our communities safe, we are eager to support the organizations on the front lines working to meet the basic needs of vulnerable populations as well as those facing new hardships as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

TEAN: A Show of Hands 

Wed Oct 17 | 7-9pm
7pm: Heavy apps & beverages
7:30pm: Presentation/short film; music and a silent art auction to follow
8:45pm: Auction close/winners announced

Tickets:
General | $25
Educators | $18

Join us for an evening of food, beverages, music, a silent art auction and more to celebrate and support TEAN (The Emergency Action Network). Learn about how your neighbors and community members have allied with TEAN to support our homeless and high need students in Brunswick and discover simple ways that you can join the effort.

Extreme poverty and homelessness in Brunswick is on the rise and it is directly affecting the lives of Brunswick students who are unable to learn because their basic needs are not being met. As of right now we have over 70 homeless students attending the Brunswick schools. This number is almost twice what it was a year ago.

TEAN is a grassroots non-profit run by six moms whose mission is to harness the generosity of community members to meet the needs of these kids. The way we do this is simple: when a teacher or other staff member informs TEAN of a student with a need, we post the need on our facebook group page where our community allies can immediately see it and act. The item donated is then delivered to the teacher by TEAN, who gives it to the student – often on the same day we learn of the need.

Since we began 2 years ago we have delivered over 1,150 individual items to over 275 kids in need. But there is more work to do.

2018 Press

Mitten Tree to donate to local non-profit, families in need

In celebration of the holiday season, Mid Coast Hospital is excited to have erected a Mitten Tree that will benefit The Emergency Action Network (TEAN), a non-profit organization serving the needs of children and families living in Brunswick. The tree, decorated with donated mittens and hats, has been set up in the Emergency Department, just in time for Mitten Tree Day December 6. All are encouraged to hang a donated pair of mittens or gloves on the tree now through December 21. After each of its branches is filled, a representative from TEAN will pick up the donations and distribute them to Brunswick residents that will need them this winter.

Brunswick officials arrange for emergency water shipment to mobile home park

“In addition to the water from Topsham, a nonprofit community group in Brunswick called The Emergency Action Network has been collecting bottled water to donate to Bay Bridge residents since the beginning of this week. On Wednesday, Poland Spring learned about that effort and sent over several pallets of bottled water as well.”

When Brunswick needs help, Emergency Action Network responds

““I feel like it would be easy to say, ‘Why don’t people just go buy some water, what’s the big deal?’” she said. “Well, you have to have a car and you have to have money, and there were clearly a lot of people there getting water for their neighbors and elderly folks.” Singer formed network in summer 2016 with Teresa Kelly Gillis; both of them serve on the School Board. Both women also have children in the school system. The group primarily collects donated clothes and other basic necessitie,s such as baby gear, furniture and hygiene supplies, for underprivileged students and their families. Members of the advisory board post messages asking for items through a Facebook page and via an email list to donors, or “allies” as they’re often called.”

DEAR MODERATION FAMILY

These are pretty unsettling and scary times for all of us. We are proud to be a part of such a vibrant and caring community with some incredible small businesses. Knowing that we are all in this together is one thing that gives us faith during these uncertain days. A majority of us will be left in a scary financial situation for both us and our employees. Several of us have banded together to reach out to state and federal leadership to ask for meaningful assistance in the coming days, weeks, and months. You can read about our efforts here: LINK. Please continue to support all of your favorite local spots in our new realities.

We know this is an unnerving time for everyone. There are many in our community who need our support right now. We wanted to share some important resources with all of you:

  • The Emergency Action Network is an incredible group of local volunteers who work to ensure that our most vulnerable students and families get the support they need. They are doing crucial work right now and could use your assistance: https://emergencyactionnetwork.com/

2016 Press

Network helps homeless students in Brunswick

BRUNSWICK

Expect the unexpected could be the motto for The Emergency Action Network, a practical support program that matches homeless students’ personal or housing needs with people who can fill that need. About 40 students are homeless in the Brunswick school district. TEAN formed out of a crisis one family experienced this summer, explained Pender Makin, assistant superintendent of schools. All of their belongings were on the side of the road; they had been evicted from the apartment they were renting. It was raining, and whatever items they had stacked on the roadside were quickly getting soaked. Makin received a phone call from a family member: Did she have a tent to keep the items from getting ruined?

Host families explored to help homeless teens

(Pender) Makin, also Brunswick’s McKinney-Vento coordinator, said Tuesday,  “Unfortunately, we’re trending toward a higher number (of homeless teens in the school system) this year based on last year” and that “the situations seem more dire.” Last spring, there were over 40 homeless teens in the Brunswick school system, up from six in 2007.

Schools, agencies seek joint response to youth homelessness

TOPSHAM — Over the last decade, the homeless youth population in School Administrative District 75 has increased from 12 in 2003 to an average of 50 a year since 2008, according to data compiled by the district health coordinator. Until recently, each community in the district has responded for the most part independently to the needs of homeless youth in their school systems. But as the number of homeless students continues rises, area towns are working together to create awareness of the problem and explore common solutions.