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.

The requests the group members receive are usually items like winter clothes or socks and toiletries, but sometimes they are as big as a laptop. There are also a number of requests to help assist with the cost of summer camps, where at the very least children can get a regular meal.

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,” Mangalam said, adding that it is important to raise awareness and promote discussion about homelessness in the area.

“The community is waking up to the discovery that our neighbors are hurting,” she said.

TEAN is hosting a fundraiser and silent auction called “A Show of Hands,” from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Frontier Cafe, 14 Maine St., in Brunswick. 

“The idea is to celebrate the generosity and creativity in the community,” Mangalam said, adding that she also hopes it will spread awareness of the work her organization is doing. “We want to increase our reach and number of allies,” she said, “(and) show them how easy it is to help.”

TEAN has also extended its reach with a branch in Topsham and hopes to make more people aware of that through the event.

Tickets are $25 for general admission or $18 for educators. All proceeds go directly to TEAN. To purchase tickets visit

For more information about The Emergency Action Network, visit the Facebook page or email [email protected]

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