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Bristol Area Lions learn about Stepping Stones Housing, Inc. 06/12/2019

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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Stepping Stones Housing Executive Director Marilee Harris, is thanked by Lion John Janell for her presentation.

On Monday, April 1, Stepping Stones Housing Executive Director Marilee Harris explained their program to the Bristol Area Lions Club.

Marilee Harris was introduced as a local who grew up in Woolwich and graduated from Morse High School. She has a bachelor’s of science degree and a master’s degree from Cornell University, where she studied horticulture, floriculture and agricultural education. She returned to Maine and became the director of a after school program, focusing on “latch-key” kids. When Chop Point opened their school, she taught graded 4 thru 6.

Harris spent time traveling and teaching in Thailand and Bolivia and returned to complete a master’s degree of divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary. Today she works as a part-time Pastor of the Damariscotta Baptist Church, a part-time middle school math teacher at Bristol Consolidated School and as part-time executive director of Stepping Stones Housing. A true Mainer with three part-time jobs.

Stepping Stones Housing, Inc. is a 501 c (3) non-profit corporation that has been providing affordable transitional and permanent housing for individuals and families in Lincoln County since 2013 and helped 20 individuals this past year.

SSHI is a local, volunteer run, grassroots program dedicated to helping those who earn less than a living wage find housing as a “stepping stone” to an improved living situation. They own several properties in Bremen and Damariscotta.

SSHI provides housing for individuals who were previously homeless and works in conjunction with Telford Housing who provides a case manager at the Ecumenical Food Pantry each week, SSHI also works with New Hope for Women and has offered several women a “safe” place to live. SSHI charges less than 30% of their take home income.

SSHI works hard to tackle the growing problem of homelessness in Maine. Over 48,000 people in Maine live below the poverty line, and about 50% of those are children who go to bed hungry. The State of Maine ranks 9th in least affordable housing available. One in nine people in Lincoln County live below the poverty line and can’t afford available rental housing. Damariscotta rentals are $800 to $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom unit and even at 40% of their income are unaffordable by single parents.

SSHI current project is to develop their Biscay Road property to assist more individuals. They are currently using a $10,000 grant to connect to town sewer and digging a second well. The property consists of a commercial unit currently rented to Custom Fitness Personal Training, a separate house and a six-bay garage. After construction these buildings will increase the family units from 2 to 8. This site is within walking distance to prospective employers.

Bristol Area Lion Chris Leeman and his wife Heather have been assisting with fund-raising and repairs to existing housing units. If you would like to help support this program, one can send a check to: Stepping Stones Housing Inc., P.O. Box 21, Damariscotta, ME 04543.

The next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club is on Monday, May 6 at 6 p.m. at the Willing Workers Hall in New Harbor. This will be the annual business meeting to nominate officers and directors for the coming fiscal year and plan the club’s summer fund-raising events and annual activities. The meal will be bowls of beef stew, salad, and biscuits followed by carrot cake and coffee catered by Deb’s Bristol Diner. To make dinner reservations for that meeting, call John Janell at 53-7402.

To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, serving Bristol and South Bristol, call Walt Johansson at 677-2584.

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