The story of a 5-year-old girl living in Portland’s woods prompted dozens of readers of the Maine Sunday Telegram to offer her family clothes, toys, furniture and other support.

Jason Libby, a 40-year-old Windham resident, has twin 6-year-old girls and a 4-year-old son and was among those seeking a way to help Arianna and her family Monday. Libby said he was moved to tears by the story, which he read shortly after putting his kids to sleep.

“My kids are about the same age. I was thinking about all the things we do every day that’s so easy because we have a home,” Libby said, noting how Arianna was unable to brush her teeth in the woods because they didn’t have water. “It was really hard for me to think of this little girl not having these things.”

Sally Richardson, a 67-year-old grandmother who lives in Stonington, said she couldn’t help but think of her four grandchildren.

“The mother and father appear to be trying. There’s all kinds of obstacles in their way, but they’re trying,” Richardson said. “This child is an innocent child.”

Many readers wondered how society could allow children to be homeless. “It was … infuriating and sad when I read that,” Richardson said.


While some readers said they wanted to ask the family how they can help, others hoped to make specific gifts, such as a bed or toys, for Arianna. The offers were being referred directly to the family.

Meanwhile, Arianna’s family continues to settle into a new apartment in Auburn, where she is enjoying kindergarten. Her mother, Chrissy Chavez, is looking for work while Chavez’s boyfriend, Troy Jethro, is now working nights in a nearby warehouse to support the family.

In the last two weeks, the family has received a small dining room table and a dresser, which all three share, Chavez said.

Otherwise, they are still without furniture. “We’re picking up little pieces here and there when we can,” she said.

Chavez said she had never been homeless before coming to Maine during the summer. She was surprised by the stigma associated with homeless people here, and hoped her family’s story would reduce that stigma.

“I’m glad it is affecting people in a positive way. That’s the only reason I’m comfortable with this,” Chavez said. “No matter what the situation, you have the right to be treated the same way as another person.”


Arianna is excited to go to school every day, her 38-year-old mom said. Jethro bought her a pet guinea pig, named Rosie.

“Arianna is loving school now,” Chavez said. “She got her little friends. She’s doing excellent now.”

The family came to Portland from Florida looking for a new start. Jethro, who is 34 and finished a three-year prison sentence for felony drug offenses in 2014, said he was looking to escape a life of drug abuse so he could be a father to Arianna. They chose Maine because Jethro planned to get a job on a lobster boat. That never happened and they were kicked out of an apartment they had been renting because the building had been sold.

After losing their Portland apartment, the family went to the city’s homeless shelter, which is frequently overcrowded. At the time, one of the city’s overflow shelters was an office, where fire codes required people to sit in chairs all night. That practice has since been changed and city officials are looking to revamp their shelter services.

Jethro was issued a no-trespass order when he complained about the conditions and made a video, violating shelter privacy rules.

The family ended up living with dozens of other homeless people in an illegal encampment behind Lowe’s on Brighton Avenue. As police planned to clear the encampment last month, the family secured housing in Auburn with the help of a state social worker and a tiny nonprofit, the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance.

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