Weekly Outreach Reports

by | Jun 23, 2024

Hope Squad Maine Outreach Report 5/24/24 by Nancy Brown

It was a great day at the shelter & then later on the streets. We served over 160 unhoused (thanks to our new clicker counter)!

I’m just in awe of how much we are able to provide our friends in need – we have amazing community partners, donors & volunteers that make ALL this happen. So much love and compassion is out there in our community & that gives us all hope for better days for our friends experiencing homelessness.

We love our new connections with our shelter friends & are so grateful to still be connected with our unsheltered friends from former encampments. The numbers are growing substantially on the streets & we worry about how isolated they are…

But overall, we were able to provide a listening ear, smiles & hugs, TONS of food, treats, hydration, clothing, personal care items & most importantly, that consistent presence EVERY Friday that so many look forward to!

Thanks to our volunteer, Christina, we were able to offer THE PERFECT summer treat – popsicles & fudgsicles! We were all excited to welcome warmer days & sunshine!!!🌞

Thanks to our many supporters out there! You inspire us to keep doing what we do. You make it all possible! ❤️

 

During our outreach on Friday, I had a deeply moving experience. I spent over an hour with an unhoused young woman, the age of one of my own children, who has endured a very difficult life in foster care and has faced significant trauma & mental health issues.  Inside the ambulance, I provided her with personal care products, resources, food, and clothing. She shared her story with me, and I was struck by her determination to get sober so she can reunite with her young child. Her resilience and hope amidst such challenges were truly inspiring.

During our time together, she told me she was an artist and does many different things, but she specifically drew a few “one-line drawings” for me. It was incredibly moving to see the joy in her eyes as she shared her artwork. Her talent and passion were a beautiful reminder of the potential and creativity that exists within everyone, no matter their circumstances.

This encounter was a powerful reminder of how fortunate I am that my children haven’t had to carry the heavy burden of childhood trauma, in and out of foster care homes, etc. It also highlighted how incredibly tough it is for young adults today to navigate the world, especially with financial & mental health issues.

I feel immense gratitude for the opportunities and stability my family enjoys. This experience has strengthened my resolve to continue supporting those who are struggling, and I hope it encourages others to offer hope and support to those who need it most, however you chose to do it.

Hope Squad Maine outreach report for 5/31/24 by Matt Brown

Crew: Deb, Fran, Jake, Lucy, Julie, Kristen, Christina, Ali and Matt

It was a busy day once again both at HSC and on the street. We had a HUGE amount of food- everything from sandwiches and meals to fruit all kinds of delicious snacks and sweets. A special bonus was bagels from Wayside.

EVERYTHING was gobbled up quickly.

Despite the gorgeous weather, the HSC was still pretty busy, especially the initial rush when we arrive. This is a special time, when familiar faces come up for a hug, smile, hot chocolate and conversation. We treasure each moment.

Fran was back for bingo, and thanks to Deb, there were many wonderful prizes.

A couple we have come to know shared the happy news that they were moving out of the shelter and into an apartment that day and it was a gift to share in their excitement. Slowly by slowly, some folks ARE getting housed, which is so hopeful.

The beautiful weather meant there were lots of folks outside, and our several hours spent on the street were quite busy. We had tons of cake (thank you Julie for cutting ALL that cake), all kinds of drinks, and of course sandwiches and the Preble Street meal. A huge surprise was several dozen hard boiled eggs from a farm (thank you Fran!). We also gave out lots of clothes, personal care products and blankets and backpacks.

A couple was referred to Milestone Recovery detox ( there is availability at the new facility at 10 Andover Rd, so call 207-775-4790 x 2 if in need); someone who was in need of rest and medical attention was monitored then brought safely to the Learning Collaborative for care, and another one of our friends who was ill was walked to Greater Portland Health.

We are proud to work closely with many area outreach partners every day we are out here, and we work hard to let folks know where the resources are, should they express a desire for help.

Overall it was a very good day…. There were so many connecting moments; tons of hugs, smiles and laughs. It is such a privilege to spent quality time with our friends out here. We remain ever grateful for our devoted team of volunteers and each and every one of you who support our mission.

Hope Squad Maine Update 6/7/24 by HSM Outreach Volunteer, Christina Iris

Crew: Nancy, Kristen, Karen, Lucy, Zahira, Janene, Julie, Christina and Matt.

Today was an incredibly busy day for our team! We started our day at the Homeless Services Center, serving over 80 people. It was clear that everyone was hungry, and many enjoyed playing bingo. We offered a variety of fruits, pastries, oatmeal, hot cocoa, coffee, PB & Js, and snack items for them to take away. We were also grateful to be able to serve fresh eggs (thanks to Sturgeon Creek Farm) which everyone thoroughly enjoys. After the Homeless Services Center, our large crew moved on to our street outreach on Preble Street, where we met and served over 70 people. In total, we connected with more than 150 individuals today. We spoke with quite a few who are very frustrated and tired of living outside. One woman on the street who was incredibly sad said, “I’m so tired of this. I just want to be off the streets.”

On a more positive note, we were delighted to learn that one of our friends we’ve been working with for over a year is going into treatment, and another just got housing. We all felt like celebrating! The community was especially grateful for the delicious homemade macaroni and cheese, salad from Preble Street, cheesecake, snack packs, and a wide assortment of drinks, including coffee and hot cocoa. Everyone seemed to really need clothing as well. At one point in the day, I looked over and saw several of our volunteers all connecting with folks- listening, offering words of encouragement, a smile or hug. Seeing those connections makes all of the hard work that goes into each outreach day so worthwhile.

While Matt and Nancy enjoyed some well deserved time off, the team carried on with lots of joy and enthusiasm!

Our morning at the HSC was full of smiles, in part due to the beautiful spread of fresh fruit, homemade muffins, coffee, assorted teas, and of course, plenty of hot chocolate. It’s a welcome change from cold cereal, and we learned that watermelon is a favorite.

We also had the honor to be approached by a resident who expressed that they’re ready to enter a detox program. That level of trust is something that we work hard to foster, and we’re so proud of our friend for making tough choices! (We weren’t able to secure a bed today, so we’ll keep trying. If you know of availability, feel free to message me directly!!!)

Once we reached Preble St. the humidity had really set in, so drinks went very quickly! All of our offerings of food, especially the cakes, were appreciated, but for many of our unhoused neighbors the real “treat” is to see a friendly face and be greeted by their name. To be welcomed to our table, both literally and figuratively. Our community is truly a beautiful, vivid, and diverse one, and our homeless neighbors are no exception.

Thanks to all of you who follow and support our efforts!
Hope Squad Out

Weekly Hope Squad Maine outreach report for Friday, 6/21/24 by Matt Brown

Volunteer crew: Fran, Zahira, Karen, Lucy, Kristen, Christina, Deb, Julie, Matt

First and foremost we are incredibly grateful to Karen and our crew of volunteers who kept the ship afloat last week when we were away. They didn’t skip a beat and it is so great to know the work can carry on seamlessly without us. What a gift!

This was a super busy day. We served 204 of our friends today, 86 at the shelter and a whopping 118 on the streets. We have been trying to keep close tabs on this, and we see a trend- The numbers of folks living outside is increasing steadily each week. This is not a good thing because the current city policy is to immediately remove any tents (as long as there is any bed availability at the HSC shelter) and potentially charge folks, thereby forcing them to simply lay out on sidewalks, in alleys, doorways, behind dumpsters, wherever they can find a spot. This is dangerous because it results in some being in isolated areas. With the potency and deadliness of the current drug supply, this is a recipe for disaster.

Today was a story of contrasts: it was wonderful to connect with our friends. Long conversations were had, smiles even a few laughs. We were blessed with so many great food items: from sandwiches lovingly made by Zahira; bagels and so many other goodies collected from Wayside by Deb; the usual wonderful items from Preble Street food hub, as well as many others brought by our volunteers. And of course lots of water to help battle the humid conditions.

At the same time, it was evident quite a few folks were not doing well. Many who we know well appeared quite ill, and it can be so heartbreaking to see people we love so much struggling just to get through the day. They have endured blistering heat on top of all the usual challenges of a day lived on the streets of Portland.

At one point, a huge crash was heard and several of us raced around the block til we found the source, a car crash At Lancaster and Elm. We rendered aid then returned to our outreach efforts.

As always, the team focuses on each individual interaction. Each moment we are privileged to share with our friends is truly sacred. We do our very best to really see and hear them, reinforce in every possible way how much they are loved and how much they truly matter.

Hugs on the street are probably my favorite. A dear friend of mine who has lived out here a while, taught me that a “15 second hug has a positive effect on your mental health.” In those 15 seconds, so much can be communicated- care, concern, unconditional positive regard and love. What a beautiful lesson for me, for all of us.

Our gratitude to be able to do what we do is profound. We humbly thank each and every one of you and love you all

Peace,
Matt and the Hope Squad Maine team

Weekly Outreach Notes – June 28, 2024 by Nancy Brown

Team Members: Jake, Liz, Ali, Susanna, Janene, Matt, Nancy, Karen, Debbie, Kristen, Christina
Today’s outreach at the Homeless Services Center and on Preble Street in Portland was intense and busy, despite our large team. The weather was perfect—a light breeze and clear blue skies. But many of our friends faced dark, stormy emotions.
The tension at the shelter was palpable. Altercations were common, and several people we met were recent victims of violence. The needs were immense, and many seemed desperate for a chat, to be heard, and to feel connected.
One moment that struck me was when a woman saw the word “Hope” on my T-shirt and asked, “Where does hope come from?” She said she couldn’t find it. That broke my heart. I did my best to listen and show her a little love.
We had great food to hand out today. Besides our regular sandwiches and Preble Street meals, Christina brought pasta salad. Debbie got a lot of fruit, including fresh cut fruit from Wayside, which was a refreshing treat. The shelter residents also enjoyed new regular items like farm-fresh eggs, oatmeal, and bagels with cream cheese!
We served over 100 people at each location, totaling over 200 for the day. We made at least six referrals to local agencies for resources like detox, case management, crisis services, and sober living.
Reflecting on the day, it’s heartbreaking to hear someone talk about their misery when all I can give them is clothing, water, and a piece of cake. I can’t fix their problems. But towards the end of the day, I saw our team busy chatting with people, getting items off the ambulance, and trying their best to meet everyone’s needs. It was a beautiful sight.
Hopefully, knowing that someone cared enough to show up, see, and hear them, and share their pain was enough to keep them fighting for another day.

Weekly Outreach Notes – July 5, 2024 by Nancy Brown

Crew: Susanna, Christina, Janene, Debbie, Lucy, Fran, Zahira, Henry, Matt, Nancy
Total Served: 230
HSC: 99
Street: 131
Referrals
•3 to Spurwink Living Room
•2 to Spurwink Rapid Access Case Management
•1 to Mobile Medical Outreach
•1 to Preble Street Learning Collaborative
•1 to Greater Portland Health
•2 transported from HSC to methadone program
•1 emergency medical assist on the street with transport to hospital by MEDCU
This day was busy from start to finish, both at the HSC and on the streets. We are exhausted. The number of people we serve is increasing each week. We were swarmed on the streets; it was intense. Everyone was hot, thirsty, hungry, and in need of clothing. People are still asking for blankets, and thanks to our dedicated volunteer Karen Packhem, we were stocked with them!
Many just wanted to share conversation and connection, and we were happy to oblige. This is, after all, at the very heart of our mission. We’ve set up chairs around our serving tables, which has been great for conversation!
The variety of fresh fruit keeps growing, thanks to our volunteer Debbie and Wayside. They love it all!
So much goes into each one of our Friday outreaches. Our wonderful volunteers work hard to pull it all together. It would be impossible to thank everyone who has contributed. Just know that this community cares and supports our efforts in many ways.
For all of you who support the mission, in big ways or small, please know how much our friends out here appreciate it, and so do we.
We love you all!

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