A Few People

“I read the news today, oh boy…” (Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper, “A Day in the Life”). I read in the news today that Commissioner Mayhew (DHHS—“the Department”) was lobbying Maine’s congressional delegation for support in fighting welfare fraud, particularly regarding food stamps.  I know I see things with some bias—I have spent close to 20 years […]

At Ground Level

By the time anyone is reading this (and frankly, that is probably a pretty small number), the fatigue and poignancy of the recent campaign advertising and the actual election results will have subsided into acceptance, and life for most of us will simply and complicatedly go on.  But there are some of us who never […]

The Kid

  Picture the kid, sitting in the shelter’s day room—baby faced 24–year-old, seated at the white plastic table, his headset on and a book in front of him, eyes down, alone at the table while more than a dozen others are connected in twos and threes and fours, some forming family while he stays alone.   […]


Any other Saturday Night fans out there?   I realize that there may not be a huge number of us who can remember the early years—Gilda Radner, Dan Akroyd, Chevy, Belushi and low key guests like Andy Kaufman.  I’ll confess that I haven’t been consistent with my viewing habits, and that the older I’ve gotten, the […]

Length of Stay

For those who do not know (and that is probably anyone reading this), Maine has a Statewide Homeless Council.  While in the 1990’s there was a Maine Homeless Coalition, the Council had its genesis in Governor King’s Sub Cabinet on Homelessness.  As a result of some interdepartmental efforts and political support, a pre-existing collaborative titled […]


Earlier today I drove past “Alan.”  I was heading south on Main Street; he was sitting on a wall near the sidewalk.  I took note partly because I hadn’t seen him for a while, but mostly because I had seen him in the same place wearing the same clothes yesterday afternoon. Maybe the season’s end […]


Turn the laws of nature around and see a strand of dune grass bent forward into the wind.  Place a little tatter of thin grey wool around the shaft. That was my first glimpse of Lenora Chamblis.  It was New Year’s Day, 1997, and I had left the front counter and gone into my office […]


How might hurricanes, waiting 5th in line at a traffic light, municipal policies regarding abandoned and abused animals, and an ethics discussion have something in common?  I think that, if you work with folks experiencing homelessness, they can illustrate how our own beliefs and assumptions inform how we look at others, including those people experiencing […]

Needham Alley

Needham Alley (far from his real name) grew up learning odd jobs early in Whitneyville, a little east of Jonesport.  Not “living the dream” but instead mirroring the poverty of almost every family around him.  His life story would track well with the majority of folks his age range in that region some people call […]


Charles is one of those wonderful reminders that we are working with real human beings. And those human beings are broader and deeper than patterns or labels.