AUGUSTA — Mainers have long been a tough, resilient breed of hard-working and generous individuals. We tend to be smart about our generosity, perhaps a bit cynical at times. But when push comes to shove, we rally together to give a hand up to a neighbor in need.

With so many in need, the decision of who to support can be a challenging one. I would encourage you to make a difference in your state, your community, your own backyard.

The Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope is a shelter for Maine’s women veterans and their children. It is a lovely restored 19th-century home centrally located in Augusta. The home is one of only six in the United States to offer safe, transitional housing to our nation’s most underserved, and steadily growing population of veterans – women.

STARTLING STATISTICS

Why support the Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope? Besides being a local charity, did you realize that there are nearly 1.6 million female veterans in the United States? According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the number of homeless women veterans doubled from 1,380 in 2006 to 3,328 in 2010. One can surmise that as the overall female veteran population has continued to rise, the number of homeless women veterans has as well over the past eight years. Yet there are only six homes in the United States dedicated to providing safe transitional housing for our female veterans. Six homes that can house a few dozen women veterans total, when there are thousands of homeless women veterans.

Did you know that women veterans have a 250 percent greater risk of suicide than women who are not veterans? Or that those women veterans are the fastest-growing homeless veteran population in the United States? These are daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins, friends, classmates and co-workers who have willingly signed up to serve and protect you, me, our families and our country. Your support, big or small, is able to make an immediate and a lasting impact on some of the most deserving Mainers you could find.

I am a proud citizen of the United States of America. We may not be perfect, but we are a great nation, and Maine is a great state. I did not serve in the military, although many of my family and friends have and are. They are true American heroes, each and every one.

Each member of our brave military signed a blank check payable with their very lives if necessary to protect and serve our great country. The least I can do to do my part for my country and my state is to help, in some small way, serve those who have served our country. That is why I support the Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope.

FUNDRAISING EVENT NEEDS SUPPORT

One of the ways that you can support the Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope is by sponsoring or donating items to our event – Mystery at the Mansion: A Roaring 20’s Evening at the Viles House. The event will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 27, and it is open to those age 21 and over.

We are in need of sponsors for the event. Each level of sponsorship comes with corresponding perks and rewards. Please contact our fundraising chairperson, Bethany, via email at [email protected] for more details.

We are also looking for donations of big-ticket items for the auction we will be having during this event. We are happy to accept gift cards and certificates and gift baskets for auction as well.

Lastly, if you are unable to become a sponsor or donate an item for auction, we are also in need of volunteers to assist with the setup and closing down of the event, as well as activities during the event. Please contact Bethany for more details and to sign up and help support this fun-filled event for an excellent cause.