Published in the Current
On a small dirt road off Mitchell Hill Road in Scarborough is a beautifully renovated house which will soon be home to six young adults in transition from the state’s youth services programs to systems serving adults.
On Dec. 1, the youths, between ages 17 and 21, will move in to their single bedrooms in the fully furnished house, along with a 24-hour support staff including social workers and psychiatrists. The program is run by Ingraham, the Portland-based human services agency.
All six bedrooms will be full, and the agency said there is a waiting list. This part of Ingraham’s programs helps troubled youths make transitions from youth to adult systems of state programs and helps teach them skills for living and working in a community.
The house existed before, but was significantly renovated with sprinklers, exit signs and other safety features added, as well as offices for staff, additional common space and landscaping.
“We wanted to keep it as homey as possible,” said Ingraham Executive Director Jane Morrison. “When you give (the residents) a beautiful atmosphere, they feel like they’re worth something.”
This is Ingraham’s seventh such home, but its first in Scarborough and the first in such a rural location.
There is a pond on the property for skating in winter, and trees and shrubs abound.
“It’s so serene,” Morrison said.
She said the agency could explore outdoor education and wildlife and ecology programs using the home as a base.
Neighbors have been supportive, Morrison said, adding that some are former Ingraham volunteers, which helped the community’s reception.
“We’ve always been a good neighbor,” Morrison said. Neighbors were also glad that there is 24-hour supervision, and that residents are carefully selected so as not to be a risk to themselves or others, Morrison said.
One challenge for the residents and staff alike will be transportation.
The house has a van, and can give residents rides to and from work, education and other programs. But since part of the program involves learning living skills, Morrison said sometimes the van will drive a group to the Maine Mall and they’ll have to take buses to their destinations.