For New Beginnings, 2021 meant discovering what a return to full in-person services could look like. In January and February we hosted COVID-19 vaccination clinics for our staff and youth clients to make sure we could provide our services as safely as possible. Our Residential Services (Marian's Place shelter and TLP apartments) operated continuously, and our Outreach and Community Services fully re-opened to in-person services by spring 2021.

COVID-19 has changed our world, but homeless youth needs have not.
In 2021 we maintained our focus on ensuring that Maine youth facing housing instability, hunger, exploitation, or abuse could find the help they need, while re-building in-person relationships between staff, youth, and collaborating providers. Education and Employment services offered both in-person and video/online support to youth in 2021 to help them reconnect to or stay in school and find jobs. Summer 2021 brought an agency-wide focus on outdoor activities - youth went on outings to learn about food systems and established gardens to grow food at each Lewiston location. Drop-In Center utilization increased steadily, from 34 engagements in January to 372 in October 2021.

In the first 5 years of my tenure, I'm proud that New Beginnings has become a leader in the field and increased our state and national advocacy efforts. The 2020 murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests for racial justice led to our recommitting to a 2020-21 racial equity training and assessment process and establishing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee in May 2021. We completed the next phase of our agency restructuring and strategic plan in 2021 and implemented an electronic client record for the first time.

And most importantly, New Beginnings remains here for youth 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to our generous community of supporters. Thank you for sustaining our mission and programs and making a difference for youth.

Chris Bicknell, Executive Director