Families First Community Center helps families gain self-sufficiency

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:56 PM EDT
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ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - The Families First Community Center in Ellsworth is a non-profit whose mission is to both break the cycle of homelessness, and equip families with young children with the skills they need to gain self-sufficiency.

Families First hasn’t been around that long, but so far that mission is being accomplished.

Residents began moving into the Families First Community Center in March of 2021. Two years later, the success stories for both the residents and the organization are many.

“We have one resident who has been accepted into Husson for the pharmacy program. We have other residents who are working full time. They are saving money, setting financial goals, and things are going really well,” said Shaina Fraser, executive director of Families First Community Center.

Vanessa Grey was a single mother living in a hotel less than a year and a half ago. Now she’s in college as well.

“I’m going for two degrees. I’m getting my associates in business management and marketing, and I’m going for my bachelors in accounting and finance,” said Grey.

And she won’t be a resident at Families First much longer.

“I have a plan to buy a house this year,” said Grey

Families First will tell you the success of their residents has little to do with the organization, and everything to do with their resident’s resolve. Residents will tell you they wouldn’t be where they’re at without families first. In the end, they’re both right.

“The families do all the work themselves. We’re just kind of there to help guide them along,” said Fraser.

“We wouldn’t be together if it wasn’t for this place. Without this program I don’t think that we’d be reunited because we wouldn’t have a roof over our head,” said Lacy Rier, resident of Families First Community Center.

“This place saved me in a way. I was really depressed and really down. I didn’t have a whole lot of hope, and then I got ahold of this place and it was a huge relief. It’s really big for me to be able to give my kids a life they actually deserve,” said Grey.

“They’re the face of strength. Some of the stories I’ve heard and what they’ve been through and where they are today, it really makes you feel a sense of being grateful and being proud,” said Fraser.

“A lot of people are isolated in bad situations, but I think it gives everyone here a piece of mind, to know that they have a place to come back to and call home,” said Grey.

“I’m glad to be a part of Families First and this community, and I’m glad I got a second chance,” said Rier.