I understand the headline to this article could instantly make you feel sad, however, this is not a sad story, this is a heroic story about a real person, making real changes, and despite what you may believe, it does only take one.

There is a thick stigma surrounding the homeless in Maine. We can find ourselves judging and at times thinking that it's not our problem. I understand some assume being homeless is the result of a lack of work ethic or addiction and many cases are but or the young do not choose this, my personal interviews uncovered that most youths are homeless due to family problems and/or financial issues.

A couple of years ago my wife and I created a documentary series on Youtube, focusing on The Store Next Door, a homeless youth program in the basement of Lewiston High School. We sparked awareness on this issue that caught like wildfire throughout the community and was able to make some changes but Jamie Caouette local Lewiston woman is the trailblazer.


 

Lizzy Snyder via Youtube

This program is run by Jamie Caouette and survives only by donations from community members and local businesses.

Jamie has made such a big impact on her community throughout the years that she was recently voted as one of Maine's "20 Outstanding Woman" by Coast 93.1.


Jamie via Facebook

Jamie Caouette and her staff Katie Krantz and Joel Morse of Lewiston, have been leading the charge for the program and are now, finally, expanding. 


 

The Store Next Door has been giving assistance to young adults in need since 2006. The program is located inside Lewiston High School and strives to eliminate barriers to education for youth experiencing homelessness, displacement, and high mobility with Lewiston.


 

Jamie via Facebook

The truth is, children and young adults are living in tents outside. They do not have enough clothes or food. They feel alone in the world. These harsh truths are something that I believe we can all help. That is exactly what Jamie has been doing for years without much help, up until recently.

The school department has provided Jamie with the basement of the Longley School which is currently under construction. The current location of the program is in two very small rooms in the basement of LHS so they most definitely welcome the space.

This new location is going to become a hub for homeless and at-risk youth in the community. The new space will include a washer and dryer, showers, and will be a home base for the kids to come and feel at peace without interruption from their struggles outside.

Jamie via Facebook

This will be a safe place for youth to access the internet for after-school help and assist in structuring an educational plan for them. There will be food and nourishment as well as counseling services available to meet with case managers as well as any community resource.

Most importantly the new space will be a safe place when you are feeling low and in need of love. Eventually, downstairs Longely will become the main home base for the Store Next Door.


 

Jamie via Facebook

Jamie's dream goal is to have a Store Next Door in every single school in Maine which will allow her and her growing staff to supply each child and consistently help all youth that need to be served.


 

Jamie via Facebook

No child should go hungry or without a home. Jamie and her staff have not given up on these children, they have exceptional bravery and will not stop until this epidemic is over.

Please visit The Store Next Door on Facebook to find out how you can help.

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