Mary Thompson poses for a portrait inside of her tent at City Hall on Wednesday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Mary Thompson, 61, has been homeless since her husband died in August 2012.

Thompson said she’s from Maine but she was living in Alabama at time of his death. She said she used to work at Bath Iron Works and moved south to work on the USS Independence.

She returned to Maine a few months ago to find her daughter, who is now 34 years old, homeless and struggling with addiction.

“They have methadone clinics but there’s no way for these people to get to them,” she said.

She and her daughter stayed in a hotel for a period of time, but were kicked out when her daughter confronted the person who she believed had stolen her bicycle.

Thompson said she was relying on Preble Street’s soup kitchen for meals, but the nonprofit’s decision to stop handing out bagged meals at 5 Portland St. and switch to a mobile delivery service has made it more difficult. The agency says the change is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have to go out and search the trucks to find them, which makes it hard,” she said. “We’ve missed a lot of meals.”

She has been able to find some sense of stability at the encampment – reliable shelter, water and food.

“And company,” she added. “I’ve got a sleeping bag and a tent. It’s kind of like going home.”

Thompson said she and others at the encampment are willing and able to work. But they lack basic services – like bathrooms and the ability to take showers and wash their clothes – that would improve their employment prospects.

It’s not only services that are in dire need – but also more empathy and less judgment, she said.

“We need more community involvement to understand about these people,” Thompson said. “A lot of them are weird as hell, but they’re awesome. They’re people.”

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