Topic: Teen Services

Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services Program Director honored with Maine Children’s Alliance Giraffe Award

Stephanie Bratnick, Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services Program Director, was honored with a Maine Children’s Alliance Giraffe Award in recognition of those in our communities who “stick out their necks” for Maine kids.

In accepting the award, Stephanie said:

“Preble Street has been supporting people of all ages since the agency was founded in 1975, so I want to accept this award in honor of this long history.

I also want to acknowledge that counter-trafficking efforts never happen by just one person, especially when the person being trafficked is a child. It takes numerous people, from law enforcement, governmental agencies, healthcare professionals, teachers, service providers, and community members, all working together on protection and prevention. So this award belongs to all those who spend everyday ensuring that the rights of children are maintained and their safety is ensured. Therefore, I want to acknowledge the work done by the entire Anti-Trafficking Services team, who work on the ground every day with survivors.”

Foster Youth to Independence

“We see firsthand that the trauma of homelessness intensifies the challenges of connecting to housing.”

Preble Street Teen Services Director Leah McDonald spoke at the launch of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Foster Youth to Independence Initiative, which offers housing vouchers to prevent homelessness for youth aging out of foster care.‬

There are many risks for young people experiencing homelessness. They are more likely to attempt suicide, 70% of report experiencing some kind of violence, 32% report sexual assault, and the likelihood of being coerced into sex or labor trafficking increases.

At Preble Street we serve 250 youth age 12-20 each year, and every young person we serve has a different story. Some were kicked out of their homes and are unable to return, some ran away from abuse, others are refugees or asylees having left their home country to find safety in Maine, others are victims of human trafficking, and many of these youth have interacted at one time or another with the foster care system.

But one thing all of these young people have in common is having experienced the trauma of homelessness. Homelessness is traumatic. And we see firsthand that this trauma intensifies the challenges of connecting to stable housing. HUD is one of our partners in acting to ensure our most vulnerable youth are safe and given opportunities to achieve independence and stability.

Become a First Place Landlord

First Place is a highly supportive transitional living Preble Street program where young people (16-21) learn to live independently. The program supports housing for young people who have the will and the drive to develop the skills to succeed.

WHAT WE OFFER

  • Rent: We guarantee 100% rental payment for the duration of the lease.
  • Support: Staff meet with the youth 1-3 times a week to continue developing independent living skills.
  • Home visits: A First Place representative visits at least weekly to ensure the apartment is clean and there are no maintenance needs.
  • Damage/Security Deposit: Preble Street provides a full security deposit as well as coverage of damages outside of “normal wear and tear” when needed.

References from partner landlords available upon request.

For more information about the First Place program, contact:

Katie Collins, Caseworker
207-775-0026 ext. 1307
kcollins@preblestreet.org

All Paws on Deck!

Dozens of volunteers join us every day at Preble Street, offering their time, energy, and unique skills to serve people in need. Some are great chefs who prepare meals in the kitchen. Others serve up food or scrub dishes. And some like to pad around on all fours, wagging their tails, giving adoration, and receiving love during their weekly visit to the Preble Street Teen Center.

Meet Monson, Woody, and Sam!

A bouncy Dalmatian with a lot of love to give, Monson is a certified therapy dog who accompanies his human counterpart, Melissa, on Tuesday evenings at the Teen Center. He started visiting in 2017 and has brought much joy to the youth, staff, and volunteers alike. The teens often run right up to Monson, hugging him and telling him they love him — and even ask if he can come sleep in the shelter. As Melissa says, “He seems to know when people need him.”

Monson isn’t the only doggy volunteer at Preble Street. Woody and Sam are a dynamic duo who visit the Teen Center on Friday mornings with their person, Susan.

“There was a young man to whom Woody took a special liking,” recalls Susan. “Whenever this youth would walk through the door, Woody would go to him. He was a tough guy on the street but a marshmallow around Woody, and proudly told his friends of the tricks he had taught him. One day after he’d aged out of the program, we arrived to find he had stopped by with a can of dog food for Woody. Imagine — here’s a kid with nothing, who went out of his way to get and spend his money on a can of dog food for his little buddy. We took pictures of the dogs devouring his treat and put thank you signs around their necks to let him know what that meant to us.”

Thank you, Monson, Woody, Sam, Melissa, and Susan for all the time, energy, and love you bring to Preble Street every week. We are honored to recognize your service!

Left: Monson / Top right: Woody / Bottom right: Sam

Learn more about volunteering at Preble Street!

Volunteer of the Month: Ahmad

It’s Tuesday afternoon at the Teen Center. Staff members are in the great room, meeting with clients and connecting them to services. Outside, a few youth kneel beside a raised flower bed planting herbs in the small courtyard. And at the far end of the room, June’s Volunteer of the Month—Ahmad—is standing behind an electric keyboard with a client, walking them through the chords of Adele’s “To Make You Feel My Love.”

Preble Street cherishes all its volunteers—more than 50 individuals join us every day, giving their time and energy and asking for nothing in return. Some people prepare delicious food; others are wizards at data entry and filing. Ahmad gives the Teen Center the gift of music.

Every Tuesday, Ahmad brings his keyboard to the Teen Center to teach youth how to play the piano. He first started volunteering at the Preble Street Teen Center through a partnership with the Maine Academy of Modern Music, where Ahmad was a student. But to say Ahmad’s gift is simply that of music instruction would fall vastly short of his widely sweeping positive impact on the lives of staff and clients alike who know him, learn from him, and play music with him.

“One of his greatest gifts that he brings to the Teen Center is his ability to connect with everyone,” says Jordan, a caseworker at the Teen Center. “He is an incredible listener, provides enormous amounts of positive encouragement, and helps show our clients they are capable of so much.”

Ahmad and Teen Center staff dress the part at the annual client Halloween party.

Kiersten, Teen Services Supervisor and one of Ahmad’s many nominators for Volunteer of the Month, had this to say: “Above all things, Ahmad, when interacting with staff, clients, volunteers, or community members, is quietly and beatifically present in every interaction, every moment. He is effortlessly empathetic. He encourages youth to bring him music they like, and he takes their lead in instruction and choosing songs.”

Staff members remember fondly the holiday concerts Ahmad helps organize, where youth are able to showcase their budding musical abilities to an enthusiastic audience. These concerts “have not only empowered youth and given them a venue to share their very proudly earned new talents, but have brought different programs together as staff come to enjoy the show,” says a Teen Center team member. The joy expressed in these musical gatherings lifts up clients and staff alike, thanks to the tireless effort of one volunteer.

While Ahmad’s volunteering centers around music, he also brings unending patience, incredible positivity, and quiet compassion. Thank you, Ahmad, for bringing your light, your enthusiasm, and your beautiful gift of music to the Preble Street Teen Center.

Volunteer of the Month: Graham

Graham W. started volunteering at the Resource Center Soup Kitchen several years ago. A Portland resident for nearly ten years, Graham’s compassion for people struggling in his own neighborhood compelled him to begin giving back.

Graham used to bike around Portland with granola bars and energy-packed snacks in his backpack to give to folks he saw along his daily commute asking for food, money, or a helping hand. Thinking this effort wasn’t enough, Graham searched for more ways to give back and decided to start volunteering.

“Volunteering with an organization like Preble Street gave me an opportunity to serve more of my neighbors during their times of greatest need,” says Graham.

Making a weekly commitment to volunteer at the Teen Center he helps prepare lunch every Friday.

Graham experienced homelessness as a teenager with his family, and knows first-hand how difficult and traumatic these experiences can be. “It’s the kids that keep me coming back. I experienced a period of homelessness myself as a teenager, and I feel overwhelming compassion for anyone having to endure the alienation and distress that comes with that, especially during a stage of life that already tends to be difficult even under normal circumstances.”

He considers himself lucky to have faced that difficult time in his life with his family close by. “My mom, my brother, and I were able to keep a roof over our heads, either in a shelter or at a friend’s house, but I know not every kid is fortunate enough to have that degree of support. This is why I feel compelled to do something to help. It holds a deeper meaning for me that goes beyond just being active in my community. It’s something that I have to do.”

When asked what he loves most about volunteering at the Teen Center, he points to his fellow volunteers and the Teen Center Staff. “They are all delightful people who have welcomed me and helped me feel a sense of belonging,” he says.

A huge thank you to Graham, and to all our volunteers, who make the work of Preble Street possible! If you’re interested in taking on a regular shift at the Teen Center, email Volunteer Manager Ali Brauner to get started!

Curbside: News from Preble Street Spring 2017

The spring 2017 edition of Curbside: News from Preble Street hit homes this week. Did you receive a copy? If not, you can read it below, and sign up here for future issues.

Mainers Helping Mainers: A Preble Street Year in Review

Watch our Year in Review video, featuring some of the friends and neighbors who stepped up to make a difference in 2016!

Every day at Preble Street, the community comes together to help Mainers move forward to better lives, giving their time, their energy, their money, their voices, and their hearts.

Your donation to Preble Street does more than ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community make it through another day. Your support empowers brave, determined people to break the cycle of homelessness by finding work, studying hard, never giving up, learning new skills, finding their voices, reuniting with family, and reaching their goals.

Most of all it helps them hold on to hope during their darkest hours.

Please join us this year in growing our community of giving hands and grateful hearts.

Join us for the Longest Night of Homelessness!

Each year on the longest night of homelessness, Preble Street, Homeless Voices for Justice, community leaders and concerned neighbors gather for the annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil to remember our homeless friends who have died and recommit ourselves to the task of ending homelessness.

Join us on Wednesday, December 21, at 4 pm for a candlelight procession starting at the Preble Street Resource Center, and proceeding to Monument Square for a ceremony dedicated to those persons who have died in our community.

Welcome, 2016-17 Interns!

Front Row: Ben Richards; USM, Kelly Gayle; USM, Alyssa Wade; UNE, Katy Finch; UNE, Naomi Abrams USM, Melissa Towle; UNE, Rachel Andreasen; USM, Kendra Page; UNE. Back Row: Brad Hammond; USM, Mark, Jen Dorval; USM, Sarah Carr, Jesuit Volunteer, Tim Bates; USM, Nicole Sutherland; USM, Amber Clark; USM, Justin Brown; USM.

Front Row: Ben Richards; USM, Kelly Gayle; USM, Alyssa Wade; UNE, Katy Finch; UNE, Naomi Abrams USM, Melissa Towle; UNE, Rachel Andreasen; USM, Kendra Page; UNE. Back Row: Brad Hammond; USM, Mark, Jen Dorval; USM, Sarah Carr, Jesuit Volunteer, Tim Bates; USM, Nicole Sutherland; USM, Amber Clark; USM, Justin Brown; USM.

Preble Street is incredibly excited to welcome its 2016-17 class of social work interns.

This prestigious and competitive social work placement opportunity has been key to meeting the Preble Street mission since it was founded by Joe Kreisler, chair of the University of Southern Maine social work department. The Preble Street internship program has trained more than 400 social workers in its more-than-40-year history. Expanding from a placement opportunity for USM social work students, the applicant pool has grown over the years to include students from University of Maine Augusta, University of New England, St. Joseph’s College, Lesley University, Boston College, and Southern Maine Community College.