The year 2020 was not what anyone had anticipated. The world was turned on its side, masks covered up any chance at a smile and people were hospitalized all over the state. What hadn’t changed is the loyalty of community supporters in a time of need. Throughout Brunswick and the Midcoast Maine community, local non-profits have stayed strong because of the volunteered time and generous gifts from our supporters. This year, despite the pandemic, loyalty and dedication of Tedford Housing’s supporters have not waivered, but instead grown to new heights.

Dozens of people hand-crafted and delivered meals to our emergency adult shelter. Hundreds of volunteer hours were submitted. One meal was made by a clever Halloween fan, who decided to bring the theme to life in her dinner. She presented “apple spider” and “vampire vino” and several other themed treats to spruce up the holiday feast. Adult shelter guests enjoyed the festivities, and appreciate the effort of every meal made in our community.

Monetary donations were made, and hundreds of in-kind donors gifted items Tedford’s guests and clients so desperately needed. The Androscoggin Animal Hospital, Norway Savings Bank and Eaton Peabody, to name a few, gifted incredible donations, including items like personal hygiene goods, bedding, pillows, cleaning supplies, and gift cards. Several individual donors brought shampoo, conditioner, sanitizer, and masks, among other things. Items that no person should ever go without. To the many other organizations, businesses, and individuals who took the time and money to gift to Tedford Housing this year, we appreciate each and every one of you.

Local non-profits in Brunswick struggled, but also found ways to thrive. The Gathering Place was closed part of the year, but reopened on June 18, 2020, with a plan to be open Monday and Thursday mornings; Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program had to close its soup kitchen but was able to re-envision their service through their outside to-go lunches; Oasis Free Clinic, which relies on volunteers, had to step back and create strong socially distance protocols; and Tedford Housing’s adult shelter capacity was reduced to 10 instead of our typical 16 guests and revised the shelter’s open hours to keep all guests safe when there was no place else to go during stay at home orders.. The pandemic caused shifts to occur in how each of these nonprofits conducted their day-to-day service to clients, but the strength of the Mid Coast Maine community helped each and every organization to stay strong.

In March, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Tedford’s emergency adult shelter might not have been able to serve as many people as it would in a typical year, but without a doubt, Tedford was going to reach those in need. Our organization provided housing assistance, outreach, prevention, and case management services to over 715 people in Maine in FY2020. None of this would have been possible without all of the community support through what could have been the most difficult year as an organization since our founding in 1987. From Lewiston-Auburn to Boothbay, and Augusta to Portland, Tedford Housing has made a direct impact by providing resources, assistance and opportunities for several hundred Mainers who were experiencing and on the brink of homelessness.

As we look into 2021, Tedford Housing’s staff and Board of Directors are hopeful for a more ‘normal’ year. No matter what happens, we will continue to serve the many people who are experiencing and are on the brink of homelessness in Maine.

Blaine Flanders is the community and donor relations coordinator at Tedford Housing. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community.

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