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SUMMER | 2020
Former Director Marian Carney smiles at the recent shelter dedication. PHOTO CREDIT: D. SLOVER / SUN JOURNAL
Summer may be winding down,
but we're gearing up for the future!
Hello Friends of New Beginnings:
None of us could have predicted the challenges 2020 has brought so far. So many lives have been impacted, including the vulnerable youth we serve who continue to face family conflict, hunger, and housing instability during this pandemic.
Thank you for supporting New Beginnings' youth during the ongoing crisis; we couldn't have continued to make a difference in their lives without you.

This end-of-summer newsletter includes updates on services under COVID-19, how youth leaders helped turn destruction into hope, a new start for peer supported prevention education, and the announcement that after 40 years, our youth shelter has a new name. We hope your summer has been a healthy one!
Doing Good in Our Community:
Turning Destruction into
Signs of Hope:
Youth leaders help create and share beauty in challenging times.
Under the spring stay-at-home order our agency headquarters and Drop-in Center (the Ann Geiger Center for New Beginnings at 134 College Street in Lewiston) was closed to all but essential staff use. As we shared in this May Facebook post,we unfortunately experienced multiple episodes of vandalism and had to temporarily board over ground-floor windows to prevent more damage during security upgrades.
During that time, several members of our Youth Action Board (YAB) expressed an interest in painting murals on the boards to send a message of hope and let the community know that New Beginnings was still here for youth in this time of crisis.

Executive Director Chris Bicknell loved their idea. Since the boards on the windows were temporary, he suggested they could instead create murals on large sandwich boards made from the removed plywood. Staff supported the YAB's vision and worked to build and prime the boards that came off the windows. Chris invited other Lewiston-area nonprofits to paint and host a "Sign of Hope" at their locations too.
YAB members got to work designing the murals that now sit in front of our building, and the story was covered by the Sun Journal.

With resources at hand and the creative drive of youth leaders and staff, the Signs of Hope project became a reality - sharing a little beauty and inspiration throughout Lewiston-Auburn.

Photos show YAB-designed murals (close-ups) and Signs of Hope at Community Concepts (hope rainbow, Bates Street) and at L/A Arts (tree image, Lisbon street).
Annual Dinner Update:
New Beginnings' Board of Directors has decided not to hold an in-person annual dinner in 2020. Follow us on Facebook and stay tuned for ways we can all connect and celebrate our mission online in the coming months!
We are still seeking sponsors for our 40th anniversary print and online storytelling project, rather than for an in-person event. Interested? Please contact Nicole Pollock at or 207-795-4077 x209
Welcome to Marian's Place
On August 5, 2020, New Beginnings hosted a private socially-distanced outdoor ceremony to dedicate our youth emergency shelter in honor of former Shelter Director Marian Carney’s legacy of serving Maine’s vulnerable youth with a safe place where families in crisis could find support to keep kids off the streets.

Executive Director Chris Bicknell remarked, “From 1996 until her retirement this spring, Marian designed and maintained a loving, home-like experience at the shelter that makes youth feel cared for, respected and valued. Because of her long-standing commitment to the youth we serve and our agency values, the shelter will now be known as Marian’s Place.”

Operating continuously since 1980, Marian's Place is the only youth program in Maine licensed to provide 24-hour shelter services and support to adolescents and young adults.
Know a young person ages 12-19 in need of shelter or family mediation?
Call our 24-hour Helpline to reach Marian's Place at 207-795-4070.
COVID-19 has been hard on everyone, especially youth who rely on our Youth Outreach Drop-In Center at 134 College Street in Lewiston for food, support, and a safe place to be off the streets. Outreach Services Director Maura Moody recently shared her gratitude that despite limits on indoor services, the outreach team creatively continued helping youth during Maine's Stay Healthy at Home order: "We were fortunate to have received COVID-19 response support from some individual donors, local companies like Hannaford, United Way of Androscoggin County, and foundation grants that allowed us to keep the mobile food pantry available to youth who needed access to basic need items such as food and toiletries."

Because of the emergency support outreach received, the program was able to provide food boxes to 85 youth each week and support the food needs of youth in our residential locations who were sheltering in place. The program also supported the weekly distribution of nearly 600 donated prepared meals in greater Lewiston-Auburn over the summer.
Peer Educator Training
In the 1990s and 2000s, New Beginnings' Prevention Education offered training for youth to become peer educators and help other young people reduce their risks for HIV infection. In 2020-21, we are building on that history by piloting a new Peer Prevention Educator project, funded in part through a grant from Maine Family Planning’s Pregnancy Prevention grant (PREP). This summer we recruited the first of three new peer prevention educators to get trained for this role.

Trained peer prevention educators will eventually be available to discuss reproductive health, including contraceptive methods, harm reduction strategies, and STI/HIV prevention with other youth and to co-facilitate prevention groups for their peers with staff. Prevention and Training Coordinator Kris Pitts supervises and meets weekly with the peer educators, tailoring their training for their specific needs. “The goal is to give youth someone they may feel more comfortable to approach or ask questions to,” says Pitts.
The current Peer Educator attended our recent Certificate on Human Trafficking (CHT) training series and is planning to participate in upcoming Be Proud, Be Responsible (BPBR) Facilitator Training. The CHT training provides context for issues related to human trafficking, an experience shared by many runaway and homeless youth, while BPBR engages youth in a mix of critical thinking and practical skills geared towards understanding risk factors and methods to prevent pregnancy, HIV, and other STI’s.
“We really hope this pilot goes well. Looking forward, this could be a great outlet for youth we serve to gain important skills while improving youth health outcomes.”

For more information about Prevention & Training services, or to be added to the training mailing list, please contact Kris Pitts at
Want some of our NEW print materials for your school or agency? Request rack cards, mini youth outreach cards, or flyers/posters by emailing
Do you know someone who used New Beginnings' services as a youth in the last 40 years? Help spread the word that folks can join our NEW Alumni Facebook group here.
Summer Foods Our Youth Crave!
This summer we asked youth at Marian's Place what their favorite recipe was and the answer is:

Full and part-time openings are available now;
make a difference in youths' lives as part of our team.
Staff from each of New Beginnings' programs gathered in June to celebrate Maine Pride 2020 (safely & virtually) to let the LGBTQ+ youth we serve know that they are not alone.
Homeless youth have a right to education:
Families and youth staying in motels, campgrounds, shelters, or other temporary or inadequate living places have legally protected educational rights - no matter what school looks like this fall. With COVID-19 and remote learning it will be far too easy for them to slip through the cracks. You can be a part of the solution! Learn 3 simple steps everyone can take at:
New Beginnings is funded in part by the State of Maine and US Departments of Health & Human Services, Family & Youth Services Bureau, Housing & Urban Development, and United Way.